Caring for those who need it most

Imagine for a moment growing up in a home where your parent never took you to see a pediatrician … that the only medical care you received was through the occasional visit to your hospital’s Emergency Department. There is a significant population in our community who has never experienced what many of us take for granted: a long-term relationship with a physician who knows our medical and immunization history, our unique health problems and our individual concerns. Many of us would say that we know our physicians so well that we consider them to be friends.

Almost 20 years ago, the first of Memorial’s Neighborhood Health Centers opened its doors in South Bend’s south side neighborhood. Ten years later, the second opened within the South Bend Center for the Homeless. A third center is scheduled to open on Memorial Hospital's campus later this year. The mission of the Memorial Neighborhood Health Centers is to provide comprehensive, affordable, quality health services for all people, regardless of their ability to pay. We believe in the importance of staffing with a consistent physician and medical team who will grow and nurture lifelong relationships with their patients. 

The staff model of the Neighborhood Health Centers is unique in so many ways: both Neighborhood Health Centers are staffed by a full-time Memorial physician and a staff, which includes nurses, a family health coordinator and support staff. Our Neighborhood Health Centers are not reliant on volunteers to be open, and we provide care Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When our patients come in, they are met with a familiar face at the front desk. Escorted to the exam room by their physician’s nurse, they meet with their personal physician for each visit. This is dramatically different than most health clinics, which are staffed by volunteer physicians or, quite frequently, physician assistants or nurses. 

Highly skilled primary care physicians staff the Neighborhood Health Centers. Andy Shull, M.D., the primary physician at the Southeast Clinic, received a perfect score on his Board Certification Exam to become a physician. Brandon Zabukovic, M.D., the primary physician at the Central Clinic, has a master’s degree in public health. He recently received the American Academy Family Medicine Teaching Award.

Memorial has embraced what we call the “lost population,” those families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford health insurance: a growing and significant population in our community. These are the most at-risk families and those who are most likely to give up the preventive care needed to keep us healthy. They are also the families most likely to not fill prescriptions or to skip doses in order to make the prescription last longer. Please, help us continue to ensure that they get the care they need.

Please, give what you can.