Daniel DiSandro ’23 hopes to attend medical school one day, so getting involved in the university’s Hispanic Health Promoter program seemed like a natural choice.
For the past 10 years, students like DiSandro have volunteered for the program, which is run by the Institute of Clinical Bioethics in conjunction with the Mercy Health System and the Mexican and Guatemalan Consulates in Philadelphia. The groups collaborate to provide medical consults, dental inspection, baby boxes, eyeglasses and basic health screenings for local Hispanic communities.
The main goal of the program is to provide basic healthcare services to a vulnerable population in Philadelphia, said DiSandro, who now serves as a coordinator for the program and is a senior research fellow for the Institute of Clinical Bioethics.
“These are services that are not readily available, or regularly available, to these individuals due to various reasons but primarily due to their citizenship status and just their trust in healthcare overall,” DiSandro said.
Peter Clark S.J., Ph.D., professor of medical ethics and director of the Institute of Clinical Bioethics, said the program was created in part as a response to undocumented individuals who were arriving in emergency rooms at late stages of various health crises.
“We created something that was proactive [so] that we could help these individuals before they got to the point where [treatment] was almost impossible or they needed a kidney transplant or something like that,” Clark said.
Humberto Cruz-Guadarrama, coordinator for community affairs at the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, said the program has helped many people as part of the consulate network.
“[The program] promotes health promotion to reduce health disparities among the Mexican diaspora in the U.S.,” Cruz-Guadarrama said. “We serve daily Mexican nationals that have limited access to healthcare.”
The monthly program is run by 10 to 15 students.
Jovany Loredo ’22, who serves as another program coordinator as well as head of student outreach, said the group is now looking to get more St. Joe’s students involved.
“Currently we’re mostly made up of seniors and juniors who are pre-health as well, but they won’t be able to carry on the project,” Loredo said. “There aren’t any freshmen or sophomores [involved].”
Loredo said while the group hopes to attract pre-med, pre-dental and nursing students, anyone can join. They also need Spanish majors and minors to operate as translators between patients and those performing medical care.
“It is such a unique experience to be able to provide clinical care as an undergraduate and learning how to interact with patients,” DiSandro said.