Clínica Cariño — the beginnings of the Outreach Clinics
The concept for the UC Irvine Outreach Clinics was first proposed in 2006 by a dedicated group of medical students as a way to expand the limited services of Clínica Cariño our student-run referral clinic. Clínica Cariño had only provided referral services once a month in partnership with the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in Downtown Santa Ana. With an increasing number of patients requiring more than just referral services but unable to afford even basic medical care, there was a need in this community for a free clinic that could provide medical services to the underserved population.
Transitioning to a full-service clinic
Clínica Cariño had been the primary volunteer clinic for medical students at UC Irvine for almost ten years. It was not, however, a full service clinic. As a referral and education clinic, its main strength was the communication and conversations students were allowed to have with the most underserved populations in Orange County. Students strived to do the best they could for the patients that were seen by providing educational materials and information about community health resources. At Clínica Cariño, patrons also participated in screenings for common chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension through glucose level checks and blood pressure screening. Students focused on the early identification of these conditions, which so often cause significant morbidity and mortality in populations where they may not be routinely addressed. As we worked to improve and expand the services offered at Clínica Cariño, we realized that there was a huge unmet need in the community for more primary care services, particularly on the weekends and for uninsured, undocumented, and low or no-income patients.
A group of motivated medical students conducted a needs and feasibility assessment of medical services and a survey of the facilities available in Santa Ana. With the research results in hand, those medical students proceeded to create the foundations for a full-service primary care clinic where underserved patients would receive continuity of care provided by UC Irvine medical students, nursing and nurse practitioner students, undergraduate and graduate students — the UC Irvine Student-Run Free Clinic Project. Today we are known as the UC Irvine Outreach Clinics.
Today — the UC Irvine Outreach Clinics
Our mission is to provide the underserved and uninsured with the highest quality of primary care. Eventually, we hope to provide patients with dentistry, vision care, legal services, and mental health counseling. By working together, we can start to close the gap in health care access in the Santa Ana and surrounding communities. Our vision is to have sites like St. Joseph’s Church serving as referral and education components in conjunction with our main clinics. These satellite sites will move around Santa Ana and Orange County, screening larger numbers of people for preventable illnesses and educating them about health care. The UC Irvine Outreach Clinics will be available to see individuals who do not qualify for government-sponsored programs and are of very low income. Thus, students will be able to both educate and serve the community in two different but compatible ways.
The UC Irvine Outreach Clinics would not be possible without the continued dedication of many UC Irvine medical students, undergraduate and graduate students, nursing and nurse practitioner students, UC Irvine faculty and administrators, and community groups. Through the hard work of these motivated people, substantial progress has been made and will continue towards making this vision a reality.