With an annual income of $10,000 or less, it’s no surprise that some Suffolk County residents can’t afford health care. Without access to preventative medicine or treatment, a sick child or spouse may worsen and quickly escalate a mildly stressful situation to one that requires emergency personnel. When illness strikes, where do they turn?
Fortunately, for the past nine years, underserved Suffolk County residents have had the opportunity to find the aid they need at Stony Brook HOME, a free student-run primary care clinic that serves a twofold purpose: Improve the health and well-being of uninsured and in-need community members while providing real-world training to Stony Brook medical students.
Students who run the clinic — under the preceptorship of local, licensed physicians — not only gain hands-on experience, they’re challenged to think on their feet to find creative health care solutions. “Students become responsible for empowering patients in the form of education while witnessing firsthand the impact they can have on someone’s life,” said Arnold M. Schwartz, MD ’80, an orthopedic spine surgeon who has been in private practice in the Huntington area for more than 30 years. “In turn, community members who need us the most gain access to free, dependable and comprehensive health services.”
Dr. Schwartz’s philanthropic efforts has funded most of Stony Brook HOME’s annual budget for nearly a decade. Today, the clinic serves more than 400 patients per year, many of whom make less than $10,000 per year and have never before visited a doctor.
“Dr. Schwartz’s funding not only supports the clinic, clinical staff and lab studies that help our community members receive the health care they need, he’s providing medical students a valuable opportunity that illustrates the importance of philanthropy,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, Senior Vice President of Health Sciences and Dean, School of Medicine. “You can’t teach or buy what students learn there. It’s a life experience that will impact how they treat patients long into the future.”
Aside from his desire to help the underserved population, Dr. Schwartz’s philanthropy stems from his desire to aid the next generation of doctors while holding true to advice his father gave: To not forget those in life who helped you along the way.
Without the scholarship support he received as a student, Dr. Schwartz recognizes that he may not be the doctor he is today. And without the mentorship of Aldustus E. Jordan III, associate dean for Community Engagement & Service Learning and director for the Center for Public Health and Health Policy Research, he may not have attended Stony Brook at all.
“I walked into the Office of Admissions at Stony Brook Medicine and first shook hands with Dr. Jordan. We met for 30 to 45 minutes, I told him my story and my desire to attend,” Dr. Schwartz remembered. He received a call later that summer from Dr. Jordan, who was happy to announce a spot had opened up off of the waiting list. “Al has been extremely influential in my life; always on my side, great heart and vision and a mentor in all I do. When I could give back, I called him to ask how I might help. He was the first to tell me about Stony Brook HOME.”
This kind of lifelong mentorship between professor and student is commonplace on the Stony Brook campus; a direct product of the University’s mission to attract the world’s top minds.
“We all — student and faculty member alike — bring our unique perspectives to the classroom and campus community and the collaborative spirit nurtured here extends far beyond graduation,” Dr. Kaushansky said. “Dr. Schwartz’s funding of Stony Brook HOME is an investment beyond monetary value. It illustrates his bond with Suffolk County community members and the University overall.”
Dr. Schwartz’s annual gift to Stony Brook HOME also counts toward The Campaign for Stony Brook, a $600 million fundraising effort and the largest in SUNY history. To date, more than 41,800 people have donated over $528 million. Make a gift today in support of your interests and help Stony Brook affect powerful change on Long Island and around world. What are you passionate about? Give today.
— Jordan Chapman