Vulnerable populations now have free access to specialists in diabetes and other diseases
When Rishi Sharma noticed the prevalence of diabetes was “way too high” among some of his patients at the student-run Imani Clinic, he came up with a way to help.
The third-year UC Davis student led an effort to start an endocrine clinic where patients can access specialized care to better manage their blood sugar.
“The reason why I’m doing this is intersectional,” Sharma said. “Diabetes is not only something that’s a global health care challenge. It’s also perplexing on a cellular level.”
Sharma, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, has volunteered at the free Imani clinic since 2020.
Imani serves many African American patients every Saturday. It has offered specialized free clinics for patients needing dermatology, pediatric care, women’s health services, cardiology and mental health care.
“It really surprised me we did not have a diabetes or endocrinology clinic,” Sharma said.
He consulted with Imani’s leadership team, which consists of fellow students, and they supported the idea. He also applied for and received a $15,000 scholarship-grant from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation, for students who desire to take on a community service project. The money is applied to the project, and if funds are left over, they go toward the student’s education.
Some of the funding was invested in digital communication tools, including laptops. The grant also has been used to purchase glucometers, lancets and other supplies used by people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
The idea for the endocrine clinic was conceived early in the pandemic while Imani was closed for in-person appointments.
“Conditions like diabetes are very common among our patient population so having a well-developed and well-staffed endocrine clinic is of great importance to help our patients and their specific health needs,” said Faith Oladimeji, a fourth-year UC Davis student who is the clinic’s administrator.
The clinic, she added, “will definitely take away the worry that comes with medication bills, or lack of access to specialty care due to either lack of insurance or other socioeconomic factors.”
Imani is one of a dozen clinics affiliated with the UC Davis School of Medicine. It is staffed by students from UC Davis and Sacramento State University.
Students in the new clinic are supervised by UC Davis Health endocrinologist Polly Fu Teng who donates her time.
Patients can access the endocrine clinic through Imani Clinic by calling 916- 475-9582. The endocrine clinic also accepts patients referred by primary care providers in the community.
The new clinic is open during Imani hours, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on a Saturday every two months. Imani is located inside Wellspace Health, 2425 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento.