In early spring 2018, dozens of people descended on St. Cecilia Parish in Beaverton, Ore. — not to attend to their spiritual needs, but their healthcare needs.
Inside the church, they sat down with trained volunteers from Providence Health’s Promotores program, who provided nutritional coaching, blood-pressure checks and information on health insurance programs for low-income families, among other vital services.
Then, with their medical histories in hand, many of the visitors to the charitable clinic climbed aboard two brand-new mobile clinics parked outside the church — where they got free dental screenings, cleanings, eye exams and custom-made glasses thanks to Pacific University’s EyeSmile Outreach Program.
EyeSmile unites mobile healthcare programs run by Pacific’s College of Optometry and School of Dental Hygiene Studies. The new mobile clinics, funded by generous donations, have allowed both schools to expand their outreach to underserved populations, both individually and collectively through EyeSmile. Students work under the supervision of faculty members to get clinical experience in their respective fields and through EyeSmile learn from one another as a result of interprofessional collaboration.
The College of Optometry dedicated its new 33-foot mobile clinic in the spring of 2017. Later, the School of Dental Hygiene Studies received philanthropic support to build a similar mobile unit for its Smile Care Everywhere program, which partners with community organizations like Promotores to provide services and patient education.
Many of the people who visited the clinic at St. Cecilia Parish received services they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access — because of language and cultural barriers, lack of health insurance and/or work schedules.
Meanwhile, students like Megan Fox ’18, a senior in Pacific’s Dental Hygiene program, got hands-on experience and a chance to practice her Spanish with many of the patients. For the first time ever, she also did eye exams, coached by students and faculty from the College of Optometry. Many conditions, like diabetes, affect both dental and eye health.
“It’s important to be comfortable working in all types of settings and to be able to work with Spanish-speaking patients,” Fox said. “It’s experience I’ll be taking out into the real world” after graduation. ■
One of the three pillars of Lead On: The Campaign for Tomorrow at Pacific University is the expansion of outstanding, 21st century learning environments for our students. From residence halls to science labs, athletic facilities to mobile health clinics, the spaces where our students live, learn and grow set us apart from the rest. Discover what the future holds for Pacific’s four campuses and its network of clinics and outreach opportunities, and learn how you can help build the learning environments of tomorrow. pacificu.edu/LeadOn
This story first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Pacific Magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.