Samuel Merritt College Students Lend a Hand to Katrina Survivors


Samuel Merritt College



March 28, 2008

Contact: Elizabeth Valente
Associate Director of Media Relations
510.725.7980 Cell


Samuel Merritt College Students Lend a Hand to Katrina Survivors

Oakland, CA -- For some, `spring break' means heading to the beach, the mountains or just enjoying the time away from the classroom. But for a small group of students from Samuel Merritt College (SMC) in Oakland, California, it means packing their scalpels, diagnostic and surgical medical instruments, gloves and reference books to provide medical aid to New Orleans citizens effected by Hurricane Katrina.

Under the supervision of Peter Barbosa, PhD Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology and Director of Research at Samuel Merritt College and local New Orleans podiatrist, Dr. Denardo Dunham, five Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) students will provide a week of free clinical service in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward Health-Clinic starting April 7th. The clinic is located at 5228 Saint Claude Avenue.

“Our students work hard all year round going to class, studying and working at clinics. They could easily have stayed home and enjoyed their break and it is great to see the students come together to help people they have never met,” said Dr. Barbosa.

he Lower Ninth Ward, sometimes just referred to as the "Lower 9,” came to national attention for its tragic devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to the City's census report, two thirds of the region's population has returned home. Few areas in New Orleans were as hard hit by Hurricane Katrina as the Lower Ninth Ward. This predominantly African American, working-class neighborhood remains largely in ruins two and a half years later.

The Lower 9th Ward Health clinic has five exam rooms and can provide treatment for 20 patients a day. The DPM students will examine patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

It's such an unselfish contribution for these young people to come and assist in any way they can. Their services are fully needed because many of our residents are uninsured,” said Alice Craft-Kerney, RN BSN Executive Director Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic. “Many podiatrists will treat insured patients only, so having the DPM students provide medical care this week is an opportunity for patients who have problems with their feet to be examined and given quality care.”

“The students will gain the satisfaction of helping others, gain valuable experience and learn more about their own service, leadership and teamwork skills and also form lasting friendships with their fellow students,” said Dr. Barbosa.

The trip was made possible by a donor-advised fund held at the College for community service projects, student led fundraisers and donations made by members of the SMC community. The trip was also made possible through the assistance of the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ and collaborating partner ACT--All Congregations Together, who provided logistical assistance. Discussions are currently underway regarding future partnership with the Samuel Merritt College Family Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant programs and the Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic.

The DPM students will volunteer at the clinic April 7-11, 2008 and return on April 14th, just in time for the beginning of spring term. Volunteering in and outside California is a long standing tradition of Samuel Merritt College.

In 2009, Samuel Merritt College, located on `Pill Hill' in Oakland, California, will celebrate 100 years of educating students who are committed to making a positive difference in the world. The DPM program is part of the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM) at Samuel Merritt College. The College offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, and physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in physical therapy and podiatric medicine.



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