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Organized by: Denisha Woods

Denisha's Photo


Name: Health Equity and Access for Life in the United States (H.E.A.L. US)

Mission: We are United States medical students and graduates of Project ELAM in Havana, Cuba who
recognize that health is a human right. In its defense we look to work as a brigade in solidarity with
underserved communities to create sustainable systems and programs tailored to heal the damage suffered from environmental, social, political, and economic health determinates.


1. To assess the conditions responsible for the health care state of historically underserved
communities through:
i. Exchange with community health care officials and leaders
ii. Application of General Integral Medicine philosophy

2. Recruiting prospective students, in addition to the promotion and sponsorship of Project ELAM,
emphasizing the importance of tangible solidarity

3. Advocacy of community health rights through socio-political education

4. Educate ourselves on the structure and function of the U.S. health care system

5. Development of an alternative health care infrastructure in the United States with an international
scope incorporating:
i. the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health
Vision: Formation of a corps of professionals who have the occupational diversity, resourcefulness and
institutional backing necessary to seriously prevent, treat and cure biological, psychological, social,
cultural and spiritual illnesses.

During the latter portion of the summer of 2014, six United States students from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana, Cuba will unite in New Orleans, Louisiana to work on a community health project, applying the Cuban preventative medicine model to describe and address community-identified barriers to health. This summer will be the start of a three year project focusing on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two of the top five causes of death in Louisiana.

In the first year, we will conduct a non-compliance study for the Common Ground Health Clinic to investigate the reasons why patients with diabetes and/or hypertension do not follow-up with this free clinic the required minimum number of visits. This vital patient feedback will be used to improve the clinic’a approach to patient care. Also, we will visit with religious leaders from the 14 churches and mosque in Old Algiers, the neighborhood immediately surrounding the clinic, in order to understand the health concerns and barriers to health from a community perspective. The following years of the project will involve the implementation and evaluation of plans to increase compliance in hypertensive and diabetic patients of the Common Ground Health Clinic and to increase community participation in health within participating religious congregations.

Community-based medicine is defined by community participation. Physicians can and should integrally involved in improving community health. We believe the best way for us as future physicians to understand the barriers to community health in Old Algiers is via collaboration with a neighborhood clinic, religious congregations, and academic institutions. The focus of the project over the following years is for the ¡Salud! New Orleans, LA team to work with the community to address these barriers while building the necessary skills become conscienious primary care physcians.


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Denisha Woods

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