Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Students form public health organization

All too often, people only think about their health after something goes wrong. Instead, they should focus on it before anything happens. So says sophomore biology student Michael Hubbard, vice president of the new student group Pioneers for Public Health. 

“People need to be healthy physically and mentally,” Hubbard says. “They should be educated on how their body works properly.”

Hence the idea behind the student organization. The group, with 30 members and counting, aims to teach the public (especially the uninsured) what’s healthy and what’s not — and encourages them to get the help they need.

“Providing medical care is not our ultimate goal, but [it’s] rather to act as a liaison between uninsured or underinsured and available health resources in the community,” says club president Allie Moore, a sophomore public policy and Spanish major. “As a group of undergraduate students, we plan to work entirely through collaboration with professionals to ensure that those we serve get the care they need.”

They work with organizations in the Denver community — The Boys and Girls Club, the Samaritan House and the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation service for veterans, for example — educating the organizations about preventative health measures and conducting visual acuity screenings using a Snellen eye chart.

Instead of diagnosing patients, they use the visual acuity screening to provide them with a concrete reason to visit a doctor, Moore says.

Group members also plan to get trained to take blood pressure and body temperature so they can expand their services.

The group also plans to volunteer their services at campus events such as the 9News Health Fair and Project Homeless Connect.

Last year, the group focused on vision care with Unite for Sight, a nonprofit that works in “reducing the barriers for people that don’t have eye care insurance,” Hubbard says.

They held free vision screenings for uninsured patients, and gave participants a tentative eyeglass prescription, which they were able to fill through the organization.

Beginning in January, Moore and Hubbard decided to try a new approach.

“We realized that vision isn’t the only aspect of health care that needs to be addressed, so we started fresh with Pioneers for Public Health,” Hubbard says.

For Hubbard and Moore, the experience is more than just volunteering. Since both are planning to attend medical school, they use the club to educate people about health care while learning about it themselves. Hubbard wants to become a surgeon. Moore is interested in women and family care.

The group meets at 6 p.m. Sundays in the Nelson Hall private dining hall.


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