The Health Unit on Davison Avenue, or HUDA Clinic, the largest free healthcare clinic in Wayne County, hosted their annual Project Happy Feet health screening at the Detroit Rescue Mission last week.
Happy Feet is a collaboration of volunteers and partners who come together to provide health screenings, podiatry care and haircuts for nearly 100 men.
Tracy Wilson, clinical director at HUDA Clinic, says the program was on hiatus for the past two years due to the COVID pandemic.
Wilson reports around 40 volunteers, ranging from medical providers to social workers to barbers, contributed their services to Happy Feet.
Both uninsured and underinsured residents are welcome to use their services.
“We know that lower income and underrepresented individuals are marginalized in health care. That’s why we are where we’re located on the Detroit-Highland Park border,” said Wilson.
Wilson’s goal is to help marginalized communities who face unique barriers to health care.
“There are so many people that are right on that threshold where they make too much money to qualify for any kind of services — or they don’t make enough money to be able to afford anything on the marketplace, where they work multiple part-time jobs and none of them offer any kind of insurance.”
The clinic also serves patients who only qualify for emergency services due to their residency status.
“They’ve been in the country for less than five years, and they may qualify financially for Medicaid services. But in order to qualify for full Medicaid, you have to have been a legal U.S. resident for at least five years,” Wilson explains.
The clinic offers primary care, as well as specialty care like endocrinology, nephrology, psychiatry, dental care, and pharmacy to make health care accessible for those who need it, including a central location of services for people who may face transportation barriers.
“If you have to go from a doctor’s appointment to a pharmacy to a lab to have all of these services performed, your compliance is going to fall down with each one of those subsequent trips,” said Wilson.
Wilson says the clinic serves many patients who face socioeconomic diseases, type 2 diabetes and hypertension since factors like inaccessibility to cost-effective fruits and vegetables impact people’s health.
“It’s unaffordable for many people to eat healthy — it’s cheaper to buy the 99 cents can of condensed whatever versus $50 on fresh fruits and vegetables.”
That’s why the clinic has the HUDA urban garden, a space for patients to grab vegetables to support their healthcare needs.
“It’s planted based on disease states, and we encourage our patients to come out…and be involved. We have a section of fruits and vegetables, mostly vegetables that are expressly dedicated for hypertensives. We have beets over here because beets helped to increase your nitric oxide which in turn helps to lower your blood pressure.”
The clinic will offer free mammograms for three days this year: June 27, Sept. 26 and Dec. 19. Patients have to pre-register 10 days in advance. Follow-up services will also be provided.
Wilson says many doctors-in-training and dentists volunteer at HUDA Clinic to learn the ropes of caring for people in a holistic way.
“You get the full experience where you’re on the front desk, directly interfacing with the individuals, learning about what is bringing them in, what their struggles are. You see a different aspect of the patient experience.”
Wilson reveals there are co-medical directors who came through the ranks.
“It’s pretty remarkable to see it come full circle now, where they received the training there and now they’re giving back.”