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Group takes initiative in aiding local healthcare

March 1st, 2007

After just a year on campus, the Students United in Care and Healing (SUCH) has given members an opportunity to give medical help to the less fortunate and has raised awareness on health issues in society.

The John Carroll University organization promotes justice through volunteer work in health care and educational sessions on the economics of health and epidemics.

Resident Minister Brittany McLane and senior Elana Neton began SUCH last year with the help of advisor Jim Lissemore of the Biology Department.

Meetings take place on the last Wednesday of every month in the Dolan Science Center, where 10 to 12 students gather.

“Topics consist of the economics of health care and why so many people are uninsured,” said sophomore Christine Minges, vice president of SUCH, “as well as the difference between Medicaid and Medicare.”

“SUCH helped me know my options,” said Minges.

She first began working with the group in the beginning of her freshman year. SUCH gave Minges many activities to particpate in from an early point in her college years.

“We also discuss epidemics and problems in the United States and other countries,” said sophomore Secretary Amanda Scalise.

Members volunteer at the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland, Malachy House, a hospice, the Rosemary Center and the St. Vincent Charity Hospital. They also work with HIV consulting.

President and sophomore Jessica Serbin volunteered at the Free Clinic lab.

Minges volunteered there as a History Taker, checking the vital signs of patients and filing paper work. Other volunteer opportunities involve the Pharmacy, HIV clinic, pregnancy testing and STD testing. According to SUCH, the clinic does everything a hospital would do except surgery and trauma care.

Scalise worked at the Rosemary Center, a place for disabled children. Most children were diagnosed with autism or Down Syndrome and have a mentality lower than a three-year- old. Most also had a mixture of 3 to 4 syndromes, requiring constant 24-hour care parents are unable to provide.

Volunteers work with children through physical therapy as “a way to get them moving,” according to Scalise.

A consistent group of students form the organization but welcome new members of any major, not only pre-med students.

“A great challenge is trying to get things done with a small amount of volunteers,” said Serbin. “It gets a little hectic.”

Contacting volunteer sites, coordinating activities and finding out what training is necessary for students also provide challenges.

“It’s hard to place people at sites,” said Serbin. She stressed the importance for students to volunteer at these sites. “In these places, a lot of people haven’t volunteered before.”

Past events include AIDS week last spring. SUCH connected with the organization at Case Western Reserve University, where students listened to speakers, organized a Relay for Life team and attended meetings and conferences about medical issues.

Students also spent spring break of 2006 in Cleveland volunteering at different health facilities.

To raise money, aside from requesting LSO money, they held a poker tournament with Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“We’re going to try to do more this year and work with new technology in the medical field,” said Minges

SUCH is currently preparing for AIDS week. Students also plan to hold a sock drive to help an outpatient nurse at the Care Alliance in treating the homeless and preventing them from getting frost bite. Tables will be set up in the atrium to collect socks that will be donated to the homeless.

Other events include a trip to Honduras in May, where students plan to volunteer at an AIDS orphanage clinic.

The most successful part of SUCH is “giving students the knowledge of opportunities to help others,” said Minges.

Both patients and volunteers benefit from the experience SUCH offers.

Scalise explained her favorite aspect of SUCH, besides getting to know people, is when the the group’s work is noticed. She likes it when students, “realize the difference you’re making: impacting lives for the better. The club opens up a lot of opportunities.”