HEAL is an AUBMCares student-led initiative that offers free, sustainable primary healthcare services for marginalized communities in Lebanon (mainly migrant workers, LGBTQAI+ Community and people with special needs) . HEAL also offers specialized services occasionally (when several patients require a consultation by a certain specialist) and offers patients labs at reduced prices and free medications when available. In addition to helping patients who otherwise could not afford or access health services, it is a great learning experience for AUB medical students; third- and fourth-year medical students examine the patients with first- or second-year students shadowing them. Preceptors then finalize the cases with the students.
The main goals of HEAL revolve around
- Offering nursing and medical students the platform to practice their clinical skills, learn new information and apply the knowledge they acquired during their courses and clinical rotation in the clinic.
- Providing support for the most marginalized and stigmatized communities in Lebanon. HEAL provides those patients with a safe space to express themselves and talk about what matters the most for them. HEAL does not only provide medical care, but also offers the patients psychological and emotional support when they need it the most.
- Connecting medical professionals to volunteering opportunities within AUB and the community.
As an example for a women’s specialty clinic that was just offered this past October, we had everything OBGYN-related and were able to offer pap-smears, check for cervical cancer, and offer a health education portion where women were taught how to perform breast exams, considering that breast cancer is significantly more prevalent among women in Lebanon when compared with other countries due to lack of preventative measures.
The past two years constituted a challenge that was far from easy. While the entire world was facing COVID-19, Lebanon in parallel was battling a triple hit: the COVID-19 Pandemic, an unprecedented economic crisis, and the Beirut blast. Despite all challenges, volunteers showed greater commitment in responding to the crises. We were able to run our clinics 2 times per month and to recruit new volunteers from all over the hospital. Nurses, residents, fellows, medical students, and other hospital staff were heading to the clinic on Saturdays to help us achieve our goals. However, due to a severe lack of funding, we had to put out clinic on hold for a while, despite their relatively low cost for the impact being made on hundreds of patients that often have not seen a doctor in over 15 years. Any and all support would be greatly appreciated to continue to be able to have these clinics, as the impact made through each one is truly unmatchable.