By Jarred Meeks
Two men with Zionsville ties who helped start a free student-run medical clinic want to raise money to expand the clinic’s operating hours this holiday season.
The Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic, at 3102 E 10th St. in Indianapolis, provides free health care to those in need on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. out of the Neighborhood Fellowship Church. The clinic is seeking $500,000 in donations to outfit a building across the street from its current facility to expand hours and provide daily care to patients.
In 2000, Pastor Jim Strietelmeier founded Neighborhood Fellowship, operating it out of his house. He said a church should connect to its community, so he and other members began assisting the hungry and impoverished near the church. Zionsville Fellowship then provided food, but Neighborhood Fellowship would continually receive people at its door whose chronic ailments became acute medical emergencies.
“At that point, we, as a church, began to pray, ‘God, will you give us a clinic?’” Strietelmeier said.
In late 2008, a group of Indiana University medical students approached Javier Sevilla-Martir, a professor of family medicine at the IU School of Medicine, wanting to start an outreach clinic. Sevilla-Martir, who had established a free clinic in his native Honduras, was tasked with finding a suitable location.
A Zionsville resident and Zionsville Fellowship attendee, Sevilla-Martir thought of Neighborhood Fellowship, a group that he said impacted the community through free Sunday dinners, a food pantry and clothing donations.
Sevilla-Martir reached out to Strietelmeier and asked if the fellowship would be interested in housing the clinic, which had moved to a different location at that time. Strietelmeier it would.
“We had been praying for this for 12 years,” Strietelmeier said.
In a community of about 15,000 homes, an estimated 50 percent of residents near the clinic live at or below the poverty level and report unmet health care needs due to cost, lack of transportation, lack of a primary care provider or unemployment, according to the fellowship.
The clinic now partners with IU’s medical, dental, nursing, social work, law, physical therapy, health and human sciences schools, in addition to other schools from Butler University.
Sevilla-Martir said the clinic is served by more than 800 students from the IU School of Medicine.
“They always say it’s one of the best experiences in their medical education,” Sevilla-Martir said.
To donate, visit https://todahgive.com/fundraiser/841/.