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UNR School of Medicine Students practice public health one patient at a time

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:43 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The lobby at the Little Flower Catholic Church this past weekend was crowded as members of the Hispanic community rolled up their sleeves and received the COVID Vaccine.

“I have really been wanting to get the vaccine,” said Adriana Rodriguez who received the shot. “It’s like I am tired of the mask. I am really tired of the mask,” she said.

“It’s great,” said Sergio Lopez, who also received the shot. “I am just glad people from our community, and not just our community are able to get the vaccine,” he said.

No doubt there’s been plenty of pictures of clinics like this before. And while the recipients are grateful for the immunization, it wasn’t as easy as just setting up a table.

Statistics show this community is falling behind on vaccines, even though many people have lost loved ones to the disease.

“COVID gave cases based on zip codes,” says Mirabel Dafinone, a first-year medical school student at UNR School of Medicine.

She says what else the data showed her group. “And there was a correlation between Latin X Zip Codes and higher cases of COVID. So that was our initial like thought of hum…” she says.

Dafinone is a member of UNR’s Medical Social Justice League. A small group of first year medical school students who wanted to make a difference in the Hispanic community.

But they needed guidance from public health experts.

“So, when the Medical Social Justice League approached us, we said this is perfect,” said Diana Sande, communications manager with the Community Health Sciences School at UNR. “We need manpower. We need woman power to go into the streets. To do the outreach we wanted to do. We knew we were getting the vaccine soon,” she says.

The students first move was to get information as to why members of the Hispanic community weren’t getting vaccinated.

The question was. where to collect that information?

“Well novel times call for novel solutions,” says Haley Nadone another member of the Medical Social Justice League. “And I am sure people have gone into churches in other communities before we are just implementing that here,” she says.

Several weeks after those one on one interviews, speaking to parishioners in their language, and answering their questions, as well as receiving the blessing of the priest at the church who is highly trusted by his church members, students set up two dates and times for a vaccination clinics.

They got their fellow bi-lingual students, as well as physician assistant students to deliver shots.

“Everyone comes to medical school with a purpose,” says Audrey Adler, with the Medical Social Justice League. “And this plays into that. How can I not only help people with their health, but people that are from my culture and my community. So, I think that is why we had overwhelming support,” she says.

From every level, the two-day clinic was deemed a success.

By the end of Saturday, 673 people were vaccinated. They will be back June 23rd and 24th for their booster.

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