Kansas City University partners with community organization to provide health care services to KC’s homeless population

Mar 18, 2024
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Students speak to community members

Kansas City University has announced a groundbreaking partnership with a local community organization to enhance health care services for the homeless population in Kansas City.

The collaboration between KCU and  Care Beyond the Boulevard (CBB) aims to address the unique health care needs of individuals experiencing houselessness while providing valuable learning experiences for medical students.

The partnership came to fruition after KCU medical students, who volunteered with Care Beyond the Boulevard made faculty members aware of their desire to do more in the community. The importance of hands-on experience in addressing community health issues is an important component of their education.

"This partnership speaks volumes for the work that we’re doing and for the importance of the work which KCU recognized by getting their students involved in community organizations and community health,” said Jaynell “KK” Assmann, founder and CEO of Care Beyond the Boulevard. “This experience gives students a glimpse into a side of life that they have never seen before and provides the opportunity for students to understand the concept of street medicine in Kansas City.”

Through this partnership, KCU employed a faculty member so that medical students can receive supervised training in Care Beyond the Boulevard’s community clinics, gaining exposure to the health care needs and barriers faced by individuals experiencing houselessness. The program emphasizes a holistic approach to health care, focusing on chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and mental illness, while also addressing the unique challenges of providing care to houseless individuals.

“Essentially, we get to practice what we’ve learned,” said Nathan Ng, executive director of the Student-Run clinic at KCU. “This has been one of the most valuable things I’ve done at KCU, working with Care Beyond the Boulevard. It reminds you of what you're working toward, and I wish more people could have the opportunity to participate.”

The initiative has already shown significant impact, with clinics seeing many patients and providing essential care to those in need. Additionally, the program aims to foster a deeper understanding of social determinants of health among medical students, preparing them to address health disparities in their future careers.

“This new opportunity for KCU students at Care Beyond the Boulevard offers students a real-world opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness, and to provide this population the high-quality, non-judgmental care they deserve. KK and her team are incredible role models to help our students learn how to build trust with a patient population that historically has faced a lot of stigma and discrimination in health care settings,” said Benjamin Grin, MD, KCU assistant professor of Primary Care, who led the initiative placing students under the supervision of a faculty member.

The collaboration between KCU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and Care Beyond the Boulevard reflects a shared commitment to advancing health equity and addressing the health care needs of underserved populations. By combining academic rigor with real-world experience, this partnership will make a difference in the education of medical students and in the lives of vulnerable citizens of Kansas City.

“The real perspective that we receive every time we go there is amazing,” said Megan Stacy, a second-year medical student at KCU. “The most important piece for me is the humanism of it all. People are living in really challenging conditions and have suffered a lot of trauma. I think it's valuable for any student to learn other perspectives and see how others are living in 2024. It’s super humbling and super grounding.”

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