||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Social Work Project Reviews|
Free Health Clinic
MAILED: July 20, 1998|
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire social work faculty and staff are helping bridge the gap between the university and Eau Claire communities through a research project begun last year.
Donald Mowry and Steven Tallant, associate professors of social work, are working with students to provide information to the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic about its clients. The university team also is helping organize the clinic.
"The purpose of this project is twofold," Tallant said. "The first is to provide (the clinic) demographic information about their clients. The second reason is we're interested in barriers to health care in the Chippewa Valley and they're providing that information for us."
The clinic, which opened in September 1997, offers basic health services to people who can't afford health insurance and helps them find alternative health care methods, he said.
While some of the clinic's clients are homeless, there's actually a greater diversity than some people might think, Tallant said.
"By far there's a great number of working American families who work and just can't afford (health insurance)," he said.
Tallant, Mowry and their students collect information such as the age, sex and economic status of the clinic's patients to determine who in the Chippewa Valley is using its services, Tallant said, noting the clinic used the data to help justify funding from the local United Way.
"It is nice to be able to help them get support from the community," he said. "What we feel good about is they used this information and presented it to the United Way's board of directors and have received money because of it."
Tallant and Mowry began in January working with three students to collect the data. One student is continuing to work on the project this summer. A freshman Blugold scholar has been assigned to the project for the next two years, Tallant said.
"It just enhances their academic experience here," he said of the Blugold scholar program, a new initiative that provides funds for promising new freshmen to work with faculty on research projects. "Not only does it benefit them while they're here, but it also benefits them in the future in terms of jobs and graduate school."
Mowry hopes the information collected about factors that inhibit people's ability to afford health care eventually will be used to eliminate the problem.
"There's nothing we would like to see better than the need for this clinic disappear," he said. "If everyone had access to appropriate and affordable health care, I'd be glad to stop the research."
But for now, the project will continue.
"I'd like to at least be involved for a few years ... and by that time, (the clinic staff members) may be able to do this for themselves," Mowry said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 20, 1998