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How Jefferson Meets the Needs of the Community


The Philadelphia Daily News has profiled Jefferson’s vital work at St. Elizabeth’s Community Center in Philadelphia, where the number of people coming in for medical help has risen drastically over the past year. Jefferson physicians, a public health nurse, pharmacist and medical students care for the hundreds coming to the center for sick visits, physical exams, medication counseling and treatment for diseases like asthma, diabetes, depression and hypertension.

In a converted rectory in North Philadelphia, staff at St. Elizabeth’s Community Center, part of Project H.O.M.E. (Housing; Opportunities for employment; Medical care; and Education), is busy seeing a diverse population of patients. Some are homeless, others have little or no health insurance, and still others are battling the effects of substance abuse. What they all have in common, however, is that those who care for them, do so from the heart -- with a strong desire to help patients experience healing despite having chronic illnesses.

For the past 15 years, St. Elizabeth’s has been addressing the health needs of the community with a public health nurse while Jefferson physicians like James Plumb MD, MPH (Department of Family and Community Medicine and Director of the Center for Urban Health), Lara Weinstein, MD (Department of Family and Community Medicine), together with Rohit Moghe, PharmD, and medical students support its medical needs. They provide sick visits, physical exams, and treatment for diseases like asthma, diabetes, depression and hypertension. In the past year, there have been nearly 600 patient visits to St. Elizabeth’s.

In addition to providing primary care, Jefferson also offers much needed counseling to patients about their prescriptions. Each week a pharmacist, often accompanied by a Jefferson student who can learn from these interactions, helps patients manage their medications. They explain proper dosing, side effects, and possible drug interactions. In many cases, they also assist patients with paperwork for prescription cards and applications for pharmaceutical compassionate care programs so they can receive medications they can’t afford to pay for themselves.

While Jefferson staff and students offer a variety of health services to patients at St. Elizabeth’s, they are also learning the importance of understanding every patient’s circumstances, and treating the whole person, not just the disease.