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Director of Communications
Office of University Communications
Howard University Hospital and University Med Students Launch Free Clinic for Uninsured
Photograph by Justin D. Knight
Raolat Abdulai, a third year medical student who began the effort more than a year and will serve as the clinic’s director.
WASHINGTON (June 9) -- Howard University Hospital will be offering free medical treatment low low-income, uninsured patients on Thursday, June 18, in a new clinic on the first floor of the hospital.
The New Freedmen’s Clinic will be run, staffed and funded by medical students from the Howard University College of Medicine and will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday. For one time only, the clinic will be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, June 22, for general screenings.
Initially, the clinic will be for adults only.
Each Thursday, four medical students, overseen by two Howard University Hospital physicians, will treat patients by appointment and those referred to them by the hospital’s Emergency Department. For an appointment, call
The clinic is largely the culmination of the dream of one student, Raolat Abdulai, a third year medical student who began the effort more than a year and will serve as the clinic’s director. Abdulai, 27, from Silver Spring, Md., got the idea for a free clinic in an email from instructor Dr. Christopher DeGannes that told her of a course being offered in Portland, Ore., on how to organize student-run clinics.
She attended the course and found overwhelming support for a free clinic when she returned to Howard.
“When we had a meeting to see who might be interested, more than 100 students showed up, and there were some faculty members as well,” Abdulai said.
She later was selected from more than 3,000 women who applied to a joint project between,O, The Oprah Magazine and The White House Project, a national nonprofit organization working to advance women’s leadership. The initiative, entitled Women Rule!, provided training for a select group of women leaders to bring their dreams to fruition.
Abdulai and 79 other women were selected to attend the three-day leadership-training workshop in New York City run by The White House Project. The women learned to write a business plan, to negotiate, build teams and organize themselves and others.
She and other students later visited and observed the workings of a student-run free clinic at Bread for the City, a non profit agency that provides food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services for low-income Washington residents.
“That’s when I really learned how much effort has to go into a project like this,” Abdulai said. “We needed attending physicians. We needed a space. We needed to learn lab skills and perfect our clinical skills in order to serve the patients. And I really learned it’s a hectic pace at these kinds of clinics.”
Undeterred by those obstacles, she and fellow students applied to the Association of American Medical Colleges for funding and received a $30,000 grant.
“After we got the grant, we finally realized that our dream would come true,” she said. “I’m so excited. I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait until opening day.”
Dr. Charles Mouton, chair of Department of Community and Family Medicine at the College of Medicine and advisor to the clinic, said the students’ efforts reflect the medical school’s mission.
“Howard University College of Medicine’s mission is to serve the underserved populations and reduce health care disparities,” Mouton said. “Our students are driven by that mission. That’s why they came here, because they want to serve people.”