Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University


JeffHOPE began in 1991 with a group of JMC medical students who saw that the medical needs of the homeless community, and the educational needs of medical students could be combined to everyone's benefit. The group put together a 35-page proposal which outlined both the goals of JeffHOPE, and a plan for meeting those goals.

This document was presented to Jefferson's administration. It included demographic profiles of the city's homeless, possible sites for a pilot clinic, and the benefits the clinic would provide to the homeless and underserved people being served by the clinic and to the medical students working at the clinic.

Tyler Grenda and Dr. Rajesh Kabadi
Tyler Grenda (JMC '10) discussing a patient with
Dr. Rajesh Kabadi at Our Brothers' Place.

Plans were developed to deal with matters ranging from disposal of medical waste to confidentiality of patient records, and the legal implications of providing medical care were carefully considered.

After long months of work, multiple revisions of the proposal, growing interest from the student body, and support from the Family Medicine and Internal Medicine departments, the project was approved in October 1992.

Approximately 100 students were oriented immediately. Lunch-time lecture series began, and students got involved with community service projects serving the homeless and others throughout the city. With generous donations of supplies, medicines, and equipment from the University, private doctors' offices, and pharmaceutical companies, the clinic at St. Columba's shelter was operational in January 1993. Nine months later, in October 19, the project received full administrative approval.

Under the guidance of attending and resident physicians from clinical departments throughout the university, JeffHOPE has provided access to care for the homeless, and access to clinical experience and community service opportunities for Jefferson medical students. Student interest has exploded since 1992 to over 700 volunteers, more than 70% of Jefferson Medical College students. This terrific response made it necessary to expand opportunities for students to work with the JeffHOPE clinics. In November 1993, the City of Philadelphia opened the Gateway Service Center. The Gateway shelter and the Gateway JeffHOPE clinic opened on the same Thursday night. More than 30 patients were treated that night, and Gateway (now called Our Brother's Place) has become one of JeffHOPE's busiest site.

In January 1996, the Prevention Point needle exchange program bonded with JeffHOPE to provide better medical care for the intravenous drug users and sex workers. This clinic provides yet another opportunity to serve the medically underserved, and allows Jefferson students to work with a patient population very different from that encountered at the shelter clinic sites.

In January 1997, as Project HOME opened a new shelter for women with psychological issues, JeffHOPE began a clinic at this Logan Square-area shelter serving women, most of whom are dually-diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses and drug addiction. This clinic previously operated every other Tuesday, alternating with our first clinic, St. Columba's. Unfortunately, both of these clinics are now closed, and we currently run clinic at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission on Tuesday nights.

In January 1998, under the leadership of students in the College of Nursing, a new clinic was started at ACTS, a shelter in the Fairmount section for women and children. This Wednesday night clinic was primarily run by nursing students, with assistance from JeffHOPE's medical students and faculty preceptors. In winter of 2006, an accidental fire in the shelter led to its newest location in North Philadelphia, near Temple University's campus.

In 2007, the ACTS shelter was unfortunately temporarily closed for most of the year and no longer acts as a clinic site. The shelter’s original location, on Master Street, had sustained water damage during a fire that occurred in early 2006. After the fire, the shelter had relocated to the Wanamaker College near Temple University. The shelter has moved back to its original Master Street location and a JeffHOPE clinic is now open there once again.

In 2008, we were able to open a new clinic at Mercy Hospice, a longer-term shelter which is home to women recovering from addiction, as well as their children. We run an education program at this shelter and see patients the first Wednesday of every month.

In 2009, JeffHOPE has decided to face a new challenge. Jefferson Family Medicine has been running a refugee based clinic for almost two years. In an attempt to expand the population they reach, they have contacted us to open an acute care clinic that is more easily accessible to the community. This evolved into Refugee Health Partners, another JMC student organization.