Students Volunteer at Mabuhay Health Center

Faced with an elderly Filipino woman patient complaining of hypertension, student volunteers at the Mabuhay Health Center immediately asked about sardines. The canned fish — a cultural favorite among Filipinos — are extremely salty and can raise sodium levels in the blood. A few small changes in the woman’s diet and her symptoms dissipated.

Ruben Lachica, a second-year UCSF School of Medicine student and executive director of the clinic, said such cultural awareness demonstrates the value of the clinic. 

“While many patients can speak English, they’re much more comfortable speaking in their native tongue,” Lachica added. “Our student volunteers provide that and the patients develop a relationship with us more quickly.”

Held downtown in the Bayanihan Community Center on the second Saturday of each month, the clinic offers health screenings and one-on-one care provided by students from the UCSF schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy. And while the students provide needed health services, the patients are providing them with an education, too.

"This is a great opportunity for students to learn in a real-world setting,” Lachica said.