A team of dedicated student-doctors from PCOM Georgia, the state’ only osteopathic medical school, which is located in Suwanee, Georgia, is working with local establishments to offer free flu shots for uninsured adults. The student-run organization, known as the PCOM Georgia HEARTS Club, formed in 2019 by Andrew Morrissey (DO ‘23), aims to offer healthcare services to those who need them most.
The clinic will take place on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry. Appointments are available and walk-in patients will also receive services.
Morrissey said, “As medical students, we feel that it is our calling to help those in need during these difficult times and we have tried our best to do so in the safest way we can.” He added, “The need for us at PCOM Georgia to support our community has never been greater. I honestly cannot imagine a better opportunity to show our community, through leadership and service, that we are committed to their well-being.”
The flu clinic is the result of relationships formed between Walgreens, the Lawrenceville Co-Op, and members of the PCOM Georgia HEARTS Club. With a desire to help the underserved, Morrissey, originally from Orlando, Florida, and the team plan to expand the clinic to the Neighborhood Cooperative Ministry located in Norcross.
Tom Balog, executive director of the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, said, “We are so blessed to be working with the students at PCOM to set up this free flu clinic to benefit those in need in our community. It truly takes a community coming together to make a real difference.”
According to Audrey Arona, MD, district health director for the Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale Health Department, flu shots are more important than ever this season during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the year to get off the fence and get a flu shot,” she said.
Moon Su Kang (DO ’23), the student logistics manager for the flu clinic whose hometown is Madison, Alabama, said, “Georgia has one of the lowest influenza vaccination rates in the country, and it disproportionately affects the uninsured and low income communities. The goal of the flu clinic is to bring awareness about the influenza virus and to provide vaccinations to those who are uninsured.”
Understanding this need and following months of research, planning and coordination, HEARTS Club members developed a questionnaire and surveyed customers of the cooperative ministries in Lawrenceville and Norcross to determine if they would be willing to get free flu shots. In addition, they provided educational pamphlets about flu vaccines to ministry clients. The pamphlets explained the benefits of getting flu vaccines.
With survey results in hand, HEARTS Club members met with Walgreens officials who agreed to provide the flu shots at no cost to the recipients.
If the first clinic is successful, Morrissey said, Walgreens will provide flu shots at the Neighborhood Cooperative Ministry in October.
Established in 1995, the Lawrenceville Co-Op works to care for those in need in Lawrenceville and Dacula by providing food, personal care items and connections to other needed resources, while the Neighborhood Co-Op serves the needs of at-risk Gwinnett County residents from Doraville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners and Tucker.
Morrissey said, “There are a lot of services within Atlanta for the underserved, but there is just as much need for residents within the suburbs of Atlanta.”
Earlier in the year, HEARTS Club members organized a food drive for the Co-Op in Lawrenceville, soliciting both food and monetary donations from the community.
Kang said, “The free flu clinic will mark our first official club event and we are grateful to collaborate with such fantastic community partners. We are excited to build strong lasting connections with our neighbors and provide them with the help they need.”
The Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry is located at 52 Gwinnett Drive, Lawrenceville, 30046. To sign up for a flu shot, uninsured Gwinnett residents should visit www.pcomheartsga.org.