As an organization composed of students at the Jacobs School of Medicine, community health workers, and physicians, the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic is dedicated to providing free healthcare to the uninsured and under served patients of Buffalo, New York. As the only medical student body in the area, we undertake this work in order to provide a service to the community in which we are educated. In addition, we hope to encourage a long-term, professional interest in community health in medical students and other health professions students who gain experience at our clinic. We aim to re-mediate some of the barriers to healthy living and access to preventive medical care in underserved communities. In the pursuit of this goal, we provide resources to help connect uninsured patients with the means to access continuous medical care, and provide education about healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention in order to encourage health literacy. We hope to provide these services in a partnership with the members of the community in which we work by building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, so that we can best serve the unique needs of our specific patient population.
The Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic was established in 2001 by a group of ambitious medical students from the University at Buffalo. The clinic's story dates back to 1998, when two first-year students, Richard Newell and Gerard Silva, looked up from their textbooks and decided to make a difference.
The clinic was first located in the basement of Resurrection Lutheran Church at the corner of Genesee and Doat streets. Once it became apparent that the clinic would be successful, the church purchased the building next door. Various funding sources, including the church's congregation, provided support for the clinic to supplement funds that students raise each year. In 2012, Lighthouse entered into a new partnership with GROUP Ministries and moved to a different location at Jefferson Avenue and East Utica Street. In 2018, Lighthouse moved to Towne Garden Pediatrics, and in December 2020, the clinic moved again to its current location in the Community Health Center of Buffalo.
In addition to providing routine, non-emergent care, clinic staff conduct physicals, screen for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, offer counseling and treatment for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and provide referrals as needed. The clinic also partners with clinical social workers who help enroll individuals and families in health insurance plans, including Medicaid, and Child and/or Family Health Plus.