Thank you so much for taking time to look at our blog! We are a group of edical students who are passionate about training and in underserved areas. This January and February, we are in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica internationally as well as locally in Flint and Lansing completing volunteer service, rotating in hospitals and clinics, and learning about international medicine and local underserved health care. We appreciate any time you take to read our reflections and any donations you might offer.

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Wednesday, February 15

Hurley Children's Center and Nutrition for Flint Children

Hurley Children’s Center is a one-of-a-kind clinic in a one-of-a-kind city. After all that Flint has faced, this clinic truly does the best it can to provide its patients with the many resources they can use to improve their lives. This clinic is home to many wonderful residents, attendings, PAs, health psychologists, WIC staff, dietitians, nurses, and many more members.

One of the biggest changes the clinic has undergone in the past two years is its move to the current location. In September of 2015, the clinic moved from its old location next to Hurley to the new location next to the Farmers’ Market. The thought was that maybe families would be more likely to purchase healthy food options if they had to travel next door for their clinic appointments anyway. Since the move, other programs with a similar goal have been implemented. The Double Up Food Bucks program has been expanded to Flint, which allows people who buy fruit, veggies or milk with a Bridge Card at a participating site to get a matched amount of Double Up Food Bucks to spend on fresh fruits or vegetables. The Hurley Children’s Clinic also participates in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program, which gives “prescriptions” for produce at the Farmers’ Market. These are $10 vouchers given on days when the market is open, and bags of fresh produce on days that the market is closed.

After being in the clinic as a medical student for a few weeks, I have seen firsthand how much this population could benefit from these programs. Many staple diets include chicken nuggets, hot dogs, chips and pop. It is difficult to advocate for healthier choices when produce is more expensive and less convenient, so hopefully these programs can have some positive impact.

The project I am involved with is a qualitative study which aims to address how these programs, as well as the move of the clinic, have impacted the patient population at Hurley Children’s Center. We are interviewing parents and caregivers of patients who are willing to discuss their experiences with the programs. We hope to find out how the programs have been beneficial, as well as what barriers patients still face in accessing healthy food. Hopefully, we will receive answers to these questions that we are not able to predict. For instance, many people viewed the move of the clinic’s location as an obvious positive, but many parents do not like traveling to the new location because parking is more difficult. If we are able to find out more information like this, hopefully these programs can be improved to provide a greater benefit to the Flint population!

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