Conference Travel Grant Funding in Action

Michael Levine, a medical student in the Class of 2019, returned from a medical conference, where he represented SUNY Downstate and the Alumni Association, filled with gratitude. Michael and another medical student, Robert Kim, successfully applied for funding to present at the AAMC National Conference this month. Their oral presentation outlined their work and research in the Downstate Mentorship and Wellness Program.

Michael expressed his hopes of positive outcomes from this experience in his application. He stated “We hope to utilize this experience to learn more about how we can improve our program, how to better conduct medical research, about current developments in the realm of medical education, and to network with other professionals who can better our program and educations. Our program’s foundation and our involvement in this conference are both rooted in our desire to improve the Downstate College of Medicine experience for every student who comes to our school.”

Serving in multiple roles here at SUNY Downstate such as COM 2019 Med Council Vice President, Student Liaison Committee Representative, and as a representative of  the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic, Michael Levine exemplifies the holistic opportunities College of Medicine students can experience with the aid of the Alumni Association and its generous donors.

 Read Below for Michael Levine’s bried reflection on his experience and additional photographs from the conferences:

“I hope this message finds you in good health… It went really well, people really seemed to like what we had to say!!! It seemed like we were one of only a small number of student presentations, which was cool (and a surprise). We learned a ton of interesting information that we will certainly bring back to the DMC campus for our wellness program and in general. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without your (Eric: Executive Director) and the Alumni Association’s assistance, so a million thanks for providing us with this incredible opportunity! Please let me know of anything I can do to return the favor.”

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Global Health at The Bell House, Brooklyn, April 29

Talks on Global Health to benefit the Brooklyn Free Clinic, followed by a night of comedy

BFC What’s Next: Global Health Here at Home

April 29, 2017

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Six medical and public health professionals will share personal narratives about the challenge of providing quality health care in the harsh social and political realities of our time. Follow their quests to serve their patients and their communities from own backyard in Brooklyn to sub-Saharan Africa, the capital of post-earthquake Haiti, Nepal and more. Hear about their confrontations with poverty, natural disasters, racism, mass incarceration, and other systemic barriers to successful health care delivery. Hear how far they’ve come – and how much further we have left to go.

Find more information, including speaker biographies, on our website. All donations and proceeds from the Silent Auction will be donated to The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic, an entirely student-run branch of SUNY Downstate Medical Center that has been providing free primary health care to uninsured people in Brooklyn since 2007.

Where & When

The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn (http://www.thebellhouseny.com)

Saturday, April 29th at 1:00PM, Doors and Silent Auction starting at 12:00PM

F/G trains to 4th Ave/9th St or R train to 9th St

Tickets

Register here. Entry is free, with a request for donations to support our cause (suggested $20).

About The Brooklyn Free Clinic

Donations will go toward The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic (BFC), a student-run FREE clinic offering medical, psychiatric, physical therapy, and social work services at no cost to uninsured patients in New York City. BFC provides preventive screening services and free or low-cost medications and medical referrals for our patients. BFC is entirely staffed by volunteers comprised of students and medical professionals at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

For more information

Contact Katie Lee at fundraising@brooklynfreeclinic.org for inquiries. Find out more about our work at www.brooklynfreeclinic.org.

Running Down a Dream: Downstate Students Marathon for the Free Clinic

SUNY Downstate students and supporters raise $21,000 during the New York Marathon to benefit the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic

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From left to right, second-year medical student Mike Levine, first-year Katie Lee, Ben and Jim Naughton

 

When Ben Naughton was 10 or 11, he got the opportunity from his aunt Anne to make someone else’s life better. The late Dr. Anne Kastor, who helped found the Brooklyn Free Clinic, offered to donate to her nephew’s non-profit of choice for his birthday.

This was the dawn of Bionicle and PlayStation 2, and “birthday money” usually means gifts, but “she wanted me to research and find something I was passionate about for her to give to,” Ben said. “And so started the tradition where, every Christmas, I asked others, as well, not to give presents, but instead to donate. From that, and in the way she lived, she instilled in me, to put it simply, this idea of living to help others, especially those less fortune than you.”

The Alumni Association allocates money annually to the program run by SUNY Downstate students.

The $21,000 that Ben, his father Jim Naughton, and three Downstate med students raised will go toward covering prescription medication for the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s uninsured patients. The runners crowdfunded for the clinic on Crowdrise.

Ben, now 25 and an associate producer for CNN in Atlanta, ran as a member of the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s Marathon Team Nov. 6. It was his fourth marathon. He has run seriously since high school, and when “my dad and I found out we could combine two of our passions in running and non-profit work and for a place like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, it was a no-brainer.”

Ben’s aunt, Dr. Kastor, had been a primary care physician, a SUNY Downstate faculty member, and one of the founders of the clinic in 2006. She died of ovarian cancer at 49 in 2013.

“After her death, I thought what better way to honor her then to ask every year for people to give to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, a cause she was so passionate about,” Ben said.

The Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the Downstate campus January 4, 2017, but has operated at 840 Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn, since its inception. The clinic opens once a week to walk-in patients, many without insurance and from underserved communities.

Students from all of Downstate’s divisions, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, to Health Related Professions and Public Health, run the clinic together. It’s a hospital in miniature, and seems to feed the students’ passion for medicine and public health.

“I got to know about the clinic from Anne telling me about her involvement in during its early days,” Ben said. “And I would say we, in our immediate family, watched it as it came to be and grew up. Then when Anne died, I think it is this way when people die, especially, at a young age from something like cancer. This brought us all closer to everyone and everything that Anne touched. David Marcus, one of the students who started the Brooklyn Free Clinic, wrote a post about Anne, and what she meant to him and the clinic. I knew it before, but I really saw and heard, through that post, how passionate he and all the people at BFC are about what they are doing.”

In his remembrance, Ben Marcus, MD, wrote, “Anne was key to the development of the BFC. I know there was much more to her than this simple, minor act, but this is how we knew her. She was an amazing mentor to the leadership group. She was an inspiring clinician to all of the volunteers, and she reminded us that primary care is not dead. Even in this difficult practice environment, Dr. Kastor showed us, and taught us, the essential role that the primary care physician plays in her or his patients’ lives.” Read the rest of Ben Marcus’ tribute, here.

Ben finished the New York Marathon and gave his cousin, Holly, Anne’s young daughter, his medal. There are things more important than objects, like family, giving, and inspiring others to give.

“The Brooklyn Free Clinic is a place that is very near to my family’s heart, both because of Anne’s connection to it, and what it stands for in that way,” he said. “And also because of the amazing work that they do.”


Student Profiles: Mike Levine and Katie Lee

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Katie Lee is a first-year Downstate medical student, a runner, and former collegiate pole-vaulter from her alma mater, the University of California, Santa Barbara. She went on to complete a master’s in Human Nutrition from Columbia University before enrolling at Downstate.

Do you have a specialty in mind?
I am really interested in emergency medicine, but as a first-year, I may fall in love with anything.

Have you run a marathon before?
It was my first marathon. I was a pole vaulter in college, but at the end of college I wanted to get involved in long distance running.

Have you gotten an opportunity to volunteer yet with the Brooklyn Free Clinic?
My work right now is very behind the scenes, though, I would love the opportunity to work within the clinic. What’s cool about it is, they say 98 percent of the students, med students at least, are involved in the clinic in some way.

How did it feel to support the clinic?
We’re able to be so sustainable, and to really have an impact in the community, and to provide every part of health care for free. It was really great to run the marathon and to support it.


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Mike Levine, a second-year Downstate medical student, got into shape after college by training for a Spartan obstacle race in 2014, followed by a spate of races around New York, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2015. He is planning on a career in emergency medicine.

What is your “hometown?”
I’m originally from Central CT, near New Haven

Was your first marathon everything you thought it would be?
I only just ran my first half marathon in May. I had a lot of fun actually, and it was a beautiful day. I had very competitive goals for it, so I was pushing pretty hard, but nevertheless it was very fun seeing the thousands of supporters.

What was one moment of personal victory?
I pushed really hard during the last four miles. Because I did, I was able to run the second half of the race about one minute faster than the first (a ‘negative split’), which was goal #1 and I’m really proud about that. It validates the work I put into training. My goal was to run at an eight minute per mile pace, which I missed by about six minutes total, but I’m happier about getting the negative split.

What does the BFC mean to you? What did it mean to run, to benefit the clinic?
It’s an opportunity to do some good for this local community, for so many people who really don’t have a lot of stability or support in their lives. All the work I’ve been able to do for the clinic helps to reaffirm that I’m doing my best to be my best. The clinic has become a tremendously central aspect of the Downstate education. It is a place where students from the entire university come together to sharpen their clinical skills while also serving their community. Getting to interact and learn from older students is something I always look forward to. I look forward to devoting a lot more time and energy into making the clinic the best it can be.


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The Student-Run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to Clarkson Avenue January 4

The Brooklyn Free Clinic is one of many programs supported in part by medical alumni

Photo courtesy of SUNY Downstate

The student-run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the University Hospital of Brooklyn January 4, 2017, on the SUNY Downstate campus, after a decade at its first home, UHB Health Associates at 840 Lefferts Avenue. The clinic had borrowed the office space after hours.

The new location, Suite A on the first floor near the University Hospital entrance, is already a working clinic, but was also available to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, 5 pm to 7 pm, Wednesdays. The difference is that BFC patients will now be closer to a larger health network if they need a referral or emergency care, said Shifra Mincer, second-year Downstate medical student, and BFC communications officer.

Read about the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s recent New York Marathon fundraiser

The location is also more convenient for student and physician volunteers coming from class or work, she said. This may encourage more doctors to volunteer as attending physicians, which could expand the clinic’s capacity to help Brooklyn’s underserved, and provide more students with valuable training.

“We’re swamped on Wednesdays,” Mincer said. “People make appointments in advance, and we try to take walk-ins, based on what we can do. If we could get two attendings one night, we could move much faster.”

The clinic is run by a team of students from across Downstate, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, the College of Health Related Professions and School of Public Health. Students handle everything from scheduling and administrative work, to screening and caring for patients, overseen by attending physicians and faculty advisors. Patients are often referred to a network of specialists who agree to treat them for free.

“The proximity (of the new clinic location) to the rest of the hospital has multiple benefits – easier access for volunteer attending physicians, closer proximity of referral services for patients, better synchronization of medical records with Downstate systems, and consolidation of care into a single locale,” said Patrick Eucalitto, third-year medical student and Chief Operations Officer for the Brooklyn Free Clinic. “This simplifies the often daunting task that patients face when navigating multiple providers.”

The team will miss the clinic’s first home, he said, but the move will be positive for volunteers, patients and students. Mincer agrees.

“One of the most important things about the clinic, in addition to serving people who wouldn’t otherwise get care, is that it’s an opportunity for students to learn and to practice in real life what we’re learning about. Normally, students don’t get to do that until third year,” Mincer said. “This is an opportunity for us to actually practice. It’s a double mission of serving people and learning.”

Working with students from other disciplines is also an opportunity to practice “socially conscious” healthcare, she said. It’s a collaboration.

“BFC leadership is using the move as a strategic opportunity for self-assessment, reevaluation, growth, and change, and we’re really excited about it,” Eucalitto said. “We get a chance to rethink our logistics, to recreate a clinical environment that reflects our organization’s core values of access, education, and inclusivity, and to optimize our unique balance between student education and excellent patient care for those who need it most.”

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Giving Tuesday. Support Downstate Medical Students by Giving Today!

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Today is Giving Tuesday, a special day for many nonprofits across the United States.  Please consider making a donation today to support the work of the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate. Hopefully, you have received our most recent request for both your annual dues and for donations to the Alumni Fund in the mail. Please note that any gifts postmarked with December 1, 2015 will be counted in our Giving Tuesday goals. Our hope is to get at least 30 donations from our alumni today.

To see how your donations are making a difference, check out our Facebook page.

You can make your donation by clicking here:

Make a donation online today!

or you can call our office to make a credit card gift over the phone at 718-270-2075.

Thanks for your support,                                             

M. Monica Sweeney, MD ’72, MPH
President, Board of Managers
Alumni Association
College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate

Harold Parnes, MD ’85, FACR
Chair, Board of Trustees
Alumni Fund, Alumni Association
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SUNY Downstate Student Profile: Eileen Harrigan, COM 2018

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Where did you do your undergraduate education and what did you study?
I went to Wesleyan University, and I studied Biology and Neuroscience & Behavior.


Who is/was your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and why?
I’ve enjoyed learning from lots of professors at Downstate, but I have to say that the person who has influenced me most is Dr. Yaacov Anziska, an alumnus of Downstate. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Anziska during the Neurology clerkship and I was so impressed by the way he educates and advocates for his patients. He is one of the most knowledgeable educators I have come across during my time on campus, and he is constantly seeking educational opportunities for his students. His level of clinical expertise is something I really aspire to.


What is your favorite memory so far of your time studying at Downstate?
I think my favorite memory at Downstate has to be when a few classmates and I organized an event to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in medicine. We set out to join students together in a conversation on social responsibility in medicine, and we were unsure of what to expect in response to our campus-wide invitation. We planned for days and days. We organized for days and days. When the time of our event finally arrived, I was so thrilled to see dozens of students, faculty and staff members in attendance to join us. Some students shared their experiences with racism, while several faculty members offered their support and solidarity. It was incredible to witness such deliberate mutual support on our campus, and I am so grateful for that experience. It makes me so proud to know that I am part of a community that is both diverse and passionately dedicated to equality and justice.


What is/will be your specialty?
I expect to pursue a career in Neurology.


How has the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate helped you (scholarships, clubs, events, white-coat ceremony, senior week, research, summer research, technology, healthcare in developing countries elective or other)?
The Alumni Association supports groups like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, which is a student-run clinic at Downstate. With the support of the Alumni Association and others, we offer free and very-low-cost healthcare to our uninsured neighbors in Brooklyn. This clinic serves as a major milestone in our careers. It is often the site of our first doctor-patient relationships, where we can explore both the compassionate and practical sides of the healthcare system. The BFC also provides an environment where we can find mentorship from volunteer attending physicians and build our clinical skills.


Is there anything else that you think Alumni would like to know about you?
I grew up as the youngest of four in a small town on Long Island called Manorville. My dad worked as a plumber and my mom became a policewoman when I was in middle school. I moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Wesleyan and began working in the lab of Eric Nestler at Mount Sinai. There, I studied the neural mechanisms of substance abuse and mood disorders. I became determined to attend Downstate after meeting several Downstate-educated physicians and taking an interest in the public healthcare system. Since my time at Downstate, I’ve been involved in the Student Ethics Society, the Brooklyn Free Clinic, Flu Shot club, and a new student organization called Downstate Dialogues, which a few classmates and I recently created. Through this group, we host conversations and events on campus focused on issues of race, gender, and identity in the medical field. My long-term goal is to use my experiences from Downstate to work towards creating a more equitable healthcare system.


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Brooklyn Free Clinic Thanks Downstate Alumni Volunteers

bfcThe Brooklyn Free Clinic is completely run by students from Downstate’s five schools.

In August, the Brooklyn Free Clinic recognized Downstate alumni volunteers for “dedication to student medical education and community service,” said Cleopatra McGovern, Chief Operating Officer. “We are so grateful to them for working with us.”

The list of clinic volunteers includes former and current (and future) attendings at the BFC who are also Downstate alumni, as well as Douglas Lazarro, MD ’90, who offers patients free ophthalmology appointments at Downstate.

James Ferguson

Ernest Garnier

Amanda Harris

Michelle Haughton

David Marcus

Michael O’Brien

Lorenzo Paladino

Richard Sadovsky

Sarah Yu

The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic is a free clinic for the uninsured that was founded by SUNY Downstate students in 2006. It is staffed and operated by Downstate students from the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, and the College of Health Related Professions. In addition to student volunteers, the clinic operates under the supervision of volunteer attending physicians, many of whom are SUNY Downstate alumni. Read our 2015 profile, here. And click, here, to learn how to become a volunteer.

The Alumni Association contributes financially to the Brooklyn Free Clinic annually. All gifts, including $6,000 for the 2016-17 academic year, come from alumni and return to students and the Brooklyn community. Students screen hundreds of patients annually at 840 Lefferts Avenue.


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Approved Alumni-Supported Programs for 2016/17

 

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For more information on the above programs, click here:

Support for students presenting at conferences
SUNY Downstate full-year research scholarship
Global Health Elective for medical students, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health
The Brooklyn Free Clinic
SUNY Downstate Medical Educators Pathway

Be a part of the opportunity — give today

 

The Brooklyn Free Clinic: Increasing Interest and Need

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James Wong (center) and fellow SUNY Downstate students are briefed before the Brooklyn Free Clinic opens on a recent Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Free Clinic has reached its tenth anniversary, and the caseload is increasing, student leaders said. The East Flatbush clinic is a haven for the uninsured and underserved, connecting hundreds of Brooklyn residents to primary care annually.

SUNY Downstate fourth-year James Wong said the experience has guided his medical education.
“It’s been a big part,” James said. “Inspiration is a silly word, but working in this clinic has solidified my commitment to the underserved.”

Every Wednesday night, from 5 to 10 p.m., students screen 15 to 17 adults for primary care, which works out to 200 to 300 patients annually, said Jack Hessburg, SUNY Downstate fourth-year student and volunteer chief operating officer.

He helps coordinate the patients, volunteers and attending physicians, working alongside Downstate student nurses, occupational and physical therapists, health educators and steering committees. The Brooklyn Free Clinic is a hospital in miniature.

“It’s been great to learn how capably other professions work together,” Jack said, in the PhD program and progressing toward a career in emergency medicine.

The dozen or so patients waiting for the clinic to open could be suffering from anything, Jack said. If it’s an emergency, they go to the ER at Kings County Hospital. Most are longitudinal patients suffering from diabetes, for example, or people in their twenties and thirties between insurance providers.

There is a greater student interest, and greater need for the clinic in the community, Jack said. The Brooklyn Free Clinic, however, is at capacity for both volunteers and patients. Expansion will come with time, donations and a new location, potentially closer to the Downstate campus.

The current facility operates during the day at 840 Lefferts Ave. as UHB Family Health Services.

Downstate student volunteerism has spilled out into the community with blood pressure screenings and patient education, and a partnership with Health and Education Alternatives for Teens (HEAT). But as far as the clinic goes, Jack said, “We are over capacity, almost always.”


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Downstate students run the TCS NY Marathon to benefit the Brooklyn Free Clinic

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Four Downstate second-year students will run the 2015 TCS New York Marathon November 1 to raise money for the Brooklyn Free Clinic.

Daniel Burack, Kenny Chao, Emmy Coleman and Cole Murphy-Hockett, all from the Class of 2018, will run 26.2 miles through New York’s five boroughs for Brooklyn’s uninsured.

The student-run clinic provides primary care, screenings and education for the uninsured. The services are funded by grants and alumni donations, exclusively.

Daniel Burack, from New Rochelle, has run two half-marathons, including the 2015 Brooklyn half, but this will be his first marathon. He’s looking forward to the challenge, and proud to run on behalf of the clinic.

“It’s a phenomenal organization, a sort of clinical oasis in which everyone I’ve met is singularly dedicated to improving the lives of others through effective and conscientious medical care,” Daniel said. “I personally have been involved with RISE, a screening organization which provides counseling and free HIV and Hepatitis C testing. It’s been an unbelievable experience thus far, and I’ve been able to develop a sort of kinship with patients through interviews and powerful conversations.”

The TCS New York Marathon guarantees entry to runners running for charity, and publicizes a link to the charity site. Runners, however, are responsible to meet their own fundraising pledges of at least $2,500.

The Brooklyn Free Clinic is staffed by volunteers, students and physicians from the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, College of Health Related Professions, College of Nursing and School of Public Health.

To support the Downstate runners, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/brooklynfreenyc2015, or email run@brooklynfreeclinic.org.


For more information on the Brooklyn Free Clinic, visit www.brooklynfreeclinic.org and read our recent post on the Brooklyn center.

Alumni donations support scholarships, help students travel to conferences, fund the annual White Coat Ceremony and other projects, in addition to the Brooklyn Free Clinic.

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