UF health program in need of families

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.

Two hundred families are needed to participate in the Interdisciplinary Family Health program at the University of Florida designed to teach students in health profession programs how to communicate with people in the community.



What: Families are needed for the Interdisciplinary Family Health program.

When: From September to March.

Where: University of Florida.

Cost: Free.

Information: Call 352-273-5320.

The program is comprised of groups of students from the UF colleges of Clinical and Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. Once they are formed, the groups will meet with families that live in Gainesville and surrounding areas within 20 miles of Gainesville, said Gina Murray, assistant director of the Office of Interprofessional Education/Interdisciplinary Family Health at UF.

Murray said families must be willing to discuss some aspects of their health and commit to the program from start to finish. She said families must also have a working phone number. There is no family size or income requirement to participate in the program. Murray said families can register for the program by calling 352-273-5320.

Each family is matched with a group of students, who make four home visits to the family between September and March.

Murray said the families benefit from participating in the program because the students, who are in the first year of study in their respective colleges, have to complete a project that focuses on the health of the family.

"It can be anything from helping with their diets or teaching them about the benefits of exercise or helping them get eyeglasses and dentures," said Murray, adding that some past projects have included students getting wheelchair ramps built at the homes of families that needed them.

Patricia Burse, a Lincoln Estates resident, has participated in the program for several years.

She said the program has helped her and her developmentally disabled son by introducing them to resources in the community.

"I have real bad sinuses and they got me involved with the We Care program and they also referred me to the (UF) College of Dentistry," said Burse. "They have really been a big help to me. I've been fortunate to get a great group of students every time and they just go out of their way to help you and point you in the right direction because a lot of people don't know whether to go right or left."

The We Care Physician Referral Network provides access to necessary volunteer medical and dental services for uninsured residents with low income.

Murray said families are encouraged to let the students know their needs so the students can best serve them. She also said the program is a great way for students to learn about the different challenges people face while trying to get health care.

"They will learn that some people have to use their wheelchairs to go half a mile to catch the bus to get to a doctor's appointment, have three children they need to get to school before they can get to an appointment or live on Social Security and have to decide between buying food or the prescriptions they need to live," said Murray. "It's a more personal way for students to connect with families in the community."

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