Help For Those Who Need it Most

A volunteer medical clinic is tending to the needs of Limerick’s most vulnerable people.

“I who come here because being homeless, a drug addict, other GPs already have their mind made up before they even see you, trying to rush you in and rush you out. People know that you’re here for homeless people and drug addicts, when they come in, they don’t feel like they’re different, they don’t feel out of place, like it’s them and us. Thanks for being here.” A clinic user

People know that you’re here for homeless people and drug addicts, when they come in, they don’t feel like they’re different, they don’t feel out of place, like it’s them and us. Thanks for being here.” A clinic user

The aim of the clinics is to provide basic healthcare for some of the city’s most marginalised people who don’t have access to primary care or general practice.

“The Partnership for Health Equity (PHE) clinics were established on a pilot basis in April of 2014. The aim of the clinics is to provide basic healthcare for some of the city’s most marginalised people who don’t have access to primary care or general practice,” says Dr Patrick O’Donnell, a founding member of the clinics with Professor Anne MacFarlane.

The aim of the clinics is to provide basic healthcare for some of the city’s most marginalised people who don’t have access to primary care or general practice.

A GP who is employed as Clinical Fellow in Social Inclusion at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) of University of Limerick, Patrick runs the clinics at two locations, where GEMS students can observe and learn; the Ana Liffey Drug Project at the Fairgreen and the St Vincent DePaul Drop-in Centre on Hartstonge Street. From these locations, he works with many of the statutory and voluntary services in the city and he visits some of the homeless hostels across the city.

Patrick won the GP Buddy Establishing GP of the Year award in 2016, and the clinic initiative was Highly Commended in the Health Service Excellence Awards 2016. The clinics have now been included in the 2018 HSE Annual Service Plan.

“We’ve seen many benefits from the operation of the clinic including the improved cooperation between the relevant services in the city and improved access to healthcare for the patients that we meet,” he says. “This has been very well received by patients, their advocates and by service providers across the city.”

“The PHE has seen innovative collaboration between researchers, educators, front-line healthcare professionals and health policy makers and planners in order to improve the health of vulnerable people in the city,” Patrick continues, “while also allowing doctors of the future to gain an understanding of the needs of these groups.”

Dr Patrick O’Donnell, who runs the clinics at two locations in Limerick

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