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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 05/26/04
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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UC Family Physicians Care For Indigent Racetrack Workers

Many of the hundreds of seasonal grooms and stable hands employed at Cincinnati's River Downs racetrack can't afford the medical care they desperately need, nor do they have the transportation to get to a doctor.

Now, thanks to a new Seasonal Worker Clinic, health care for these indigent and often homeless workers is on its way.

The clinic is the brainchild of Joe Kiesler, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at UC Medical Center, and Joy Williams, MD, a family medicine faculty development fellow. Drs. Kiesler and Williams and family medicine residents Suzanne Gaudreault, MD, and Chris Bernheisel, MD, will staff the clinic.

River Downs employs about 250 minimum-wage seasonal workers, many of whom live rough behind the track -- similar to the living conditions depicted in the movie "Seabiscuit." Most speak no English and have neither health insurance nor means of getting to a doctor. As a consequence many get very ill because they are not treated until their problems become advanced.

The clinic will treat chronic and acute health problems, work-related injuries, and substance abuse and will provide preventive care, patient education, HIV screening, free medications, and referrals to specialists when needed. The physicians, assisted by a Spanish-language interpreter from Su Casa Ministries, will also link their patients with community health care resources.

In addition, the new clinic will provide a unique training opportunity for UC medical students, who will work there under the supervision of Drs. Kiesler and Williams and other family medicine department faculty. The educational experience will help to prepare the next generation of physicians to care for similar types of indigent patients in their communities.

Financial and other support for the River Downs Seasonal Worker Clinic has come from the Cincinnati Health Network, River Downs racetrack, University Family Physicians, the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Su Casa Ministries, Shoulder to Shoulder and other sources.

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