15 Sep Medical Volunteering: Bringing Patients Closer to Research
The Community Clinic of High Point (CCHP) is a small building on North Main Street in downtown High Point, NC. Although many residents drive past it each day, a large percentage is likely unfamiliar with what happens inside. Little do they know, over sixty medical physicians and staff volunteer their time each month to offer highly needed medical support.
Dr. Jonathan Austin, Principal Investigator at High Point Clinical Trials Center (HPCTC), is one of the many medical professionals who volunteer at the clinic each week. His objective is to combine his extensive medical experience as well as the services of HPCTC to improve the lives and well-being of the medically underserved.
Dr. Austin discusses his experience at the Community Clinic:
“Patients come to me with a mixture of established and acute care conditions involving diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, or just general health screening. It is a busy time, but the Patients are appreciative of the care and are inquisitive about their health. Often, there are opportunities to discuss their health challenges in more detail and begin a discussion about potential research options if desired. Most recently, I discussed studies involving psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, NASH/NAFLD and COPD with my patients.”
“I have also started a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease initiative to identify this frequently underdiagnosed condition by providing free spirometry screenings. My goal is to educate about the effects of smoking, offer cost effective treatments and introduce patients to potentially beneficial research studies before the condition advances to a life-threatening stage. Further, we partnered with iCardiac to secure an EKG technology that allows the community clinic to perform EKGs on site.
Finally, we are creating a database that gives a clearer picture of disease states in our local community. For instance, we have finished a NASH/NAFL chart review and will begin a renal impairment database this month.”
One intriguing yet complex aspect of working at the clinic is evaluating potential drug-drug interactions for patients on multiple medications. As Dr. Austin explains, many Patients are taking multiple medicines for their chronic conditions and the challenge is often identifying what medications are truly needed and how to benefit from them without unwanted interactions or side effects.
“This is certainly an area where health care providers are balancing the therapeutic benefits of a medication against potential drug-drug interactions or unexpected side effects. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effect of an illicit substance on a medication or of a certain molecule on another can alter the expected health outcomes completely. Once again, clinical research provides critical insight on drug-drug interactions and the risks associated with them. The combination of this information with the provision of services at the community clinic can only bring value to the Patients we see every week.”
Whether it is the issue of polypharmacy, diabetes, liver disease or COPD, combining the capabilities of a premier clinical pharmacology unit like High Point Clinical Trials Center with the service of the Community Clinic can bring significant value to Patients and help them better manage their chronic or acute conditions. As a means of expanding this dialogue between healthcare providers and underserved Patients, HPCTC will also continue to offer services throughout the community, whether at the Community Clinic or with its new health center on wheels – a mobile unit that allows for remote screening and the provision of medical procedures throughout North Carolina.
You can visit HPCTC’s website to learn more about the company’s community outreach as well as the very innovative the mobile unit platform.
Established approximately 22 years ago, the CCHP belongs to the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and is one of 81 clinics located throughout North Carolina. The clinic welcomes uninsured individuals and provides excellent preventative care with full lab panels and screenings treating patients for mental illnesses like depression and chronic illnesses such as diabetes.