Equal Access is a network of student-run free healthcare clinics which provide free care and other services to the medically underserved in Gainesville, FL. Health professional students from the University of Florida Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health volunteer together under the supervision of Shands/UF faculty to assess and treat patients. The goal of the clinic is to provide physical and mental health services to those in need while enhancing the education of University of Florida students.
In 1988, a motivated group of medical students got the idea for the Equal Access Clinic. With the help of Dr. Watson, the senior associate dean for educational affairs, they worked out a plan to open a weekly clinic offering medical care to those without access. The Salvation Army allowed the use of their building in downtown Gainesville, the Alumni Association provided financial support, and with the help of Dr. John Perchalski, the clinic opened its doors in 1992. Dental students started volunteering at the clinic in 1997. In 1998 the Equal Access Clinic began offering free anonymous HIV testing for all its patients.
The Equal Access Clinic is now fortunately provided with free access to the facilities at the Family Practice Medical Group at Main Street and at the Gainesville Community Ministry building. HIV testing supplies are donated free of charge by the Alachua County Health Department.
The Equal Access 5K Run was started in 1997 and is now our largest fundraiser. The clinic also receives funding from private donors, UF Student Government, UF College of Medicine Alumni Association, and AHEC.
Since it was founded, student leaders have worked hard to bring new services to our clinics. We have four primary medical clinic sites as well as several specialty clinics providing psychological evaluations and counseling, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and basic gynecologic care.
The growth and success of our clinic can be attributed to the many passionate and compassionate volunteers that take part in this project. Volunteers include students and faculty from many health disciplines including: undergraduate, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, social work, clinical psychology, and physical therapy. In addition, many of the administrative staff from the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at UF provide the much needed and appreciated support for our clinic.