By Kristin Bien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
7:43 AM EDT, October 2, 2012
The Sister Maura Brannick Health Center on Chapin Street in South Bend serves patients in need without access to insurance or Medicare. And because the staff is small, volunteers make it possible for the clinic to serve thousands every year -- many of those volunteers are college students.
When you don't have health insurance -- going to the dentist is a luxury.
"Things have been hard," says Joe Machemer of South Bend, "I work as a carpenter through the union and I haven't had any insurance for a couple years."
Machemer isn't willing to pay hundreds of dollars to keep his teeth clean. And he doesn't have to. On this particular morning, he is being treated at the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center. His hygienist is an IUSB graduate who is volunteering her time.
"This is a Godsend. If you ask me," says Machemer, "it cost me under 20 dollars to get a tooth pulled."
And that isn't the only thing Machemer can get at the health center. There is a long list of services including treatment for injury, health screenings, pharmacy and lab services. It is all thanks to a dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers -- many of which come from area colleges.
"I think it is a good opportunity for them to get involved in a collaborative effort to provide healthcare to an under served population," says Derek Escalampe, a volunteer from Notre Dame. Along with a lot of other duties, Escalampe helps coordinate other volunteers.
The students who volunteer here come from area schools like Saint Mary's, Bethel, IUSB and Notre Dame. By coming here they get hands on experience dealing with patients in a clinical setting.
But, for many students, including Nathan Lin it is more than that though.
"It is just so necessary," says Lin, "I can't imagine what would happen to the patients that come here if the Sister Maura Branick Health Center didn't exist. I love being able to contribute to that."
And patients like Machemer are grateful for that too. The only problem? "The problem is not many people know about it," says Machemer.
The center's focus is on he unemployed or working poor, providing services for those that fall below 150% of the federally designated poverty level.
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