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***COVID-19 Update: We have resumed MMO clinics in the era of the pandemic, but we have been focusing on social distancing throughout each event. Additionally, all patients and volunteers must wear masks and goggles at all times.***
Marshall Medical Outreach (MMO) provides free medical care to the homeless, unemployed and those at risk for homelessness in our city.
MMO is a student-led free mobile health clinic that takes place one Saturday each month in Huntington, West Virginia. Under the guidance of School of Medicine faculty physicians and steadfast community volunteers, MMO offers on-site clinical and social services such as:
Despite programs designed to address the needs of groups such as the homeless and unemployed, many still suffer from chronic and debilitating illnesses that go untreated. Through MMO, we extend our clinical resources as medical students and physicians and provide comprehensive care to these people.
Partnerships Make MMO Possible
Through partnerships with the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health, Marshall University School of Pharmacy, Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless/ Harmony House, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Ebenezer Medical Outreach, and the Bright Clinic, we have treated more than 3,100 patients. Under the supervision of family medicine physicians, Dr. Charles Clements and Dr. Katherine Steele, the MMO goal is to establish primary care as well as take care of other minor medical problems for the patients who present each month.
Since 2011, we’ve expanded services to meet the needs of those we serve. In addition to over-the-counter medications, prescriptions are filled under the supervision of Pharmacist, Dr. Robert Stanton. An eye screening station is also available through our partnership with Marshall Eye Surgeons. The screening station is run by students in the ophthalmology interest group. Patients are screened for eye changes caused by diabetes and hypertension, minor eye problems are treated and patients are examined and provided free reading glasses or scheduled for an appointment at the refraction clinic to obtain prescription glasses to meet their needs.
Learning through Leadership
Beyond providing a necessary service, MMO is a chance for students to develop leadership skills that they can take with them into their careers as physicians. Medical students, pharmacy students, residents and attending physicians provide clinical services, while long-term volunteers register the patients and provide needed items like coats, blankets, snacks, water and hygiene items. Building rapport and meeting their immediate needs is important in gaining the trust of this population.
Student leaders, appointed each year, coordinate monthly MMO events. They act as the liaisons between collaborating agencies, including the Mission, Harmony House, and the Cabell Breast Health Center, working closely with community members and city officials to share the goals and needs of MMO to better serve Huntington’s homeless. Amber Vance oversees the purchase and handling of donated items for distribution at MMO. Our medical van driver, Tom Nicholas, (formerly Ron Hackworth “Hack” who served at MMO for nearly nine years), is instrumental in seeing that setup and equipment run smoothly. Hack’s previous services and Tom’s current efforts have been and continue to be invaluable to MMO’s successful operation each month.