United Health Foundation “Connect the Docs” Program Marks Seven Years
It’s seven years since A.T. Still University and the United Health Foundation (UHF) began the Connect the Doc’s Graduate Loanship Program. The program has benefitted healthcare graduates and countless patients in underserved communities across the country.
ATSU received the first two-year, $100,000 grant from UHF in February 2009 to provide loan repayments to two qualifying dental graduates who secured jobs in community health centers. Each loanship recipient received $25,000 to repay his or her student loan at the end of each year for a total of two years. The first recipients were Dr. Brenden Davis and Dr. Elizabeth Magallanes, both dentists with a passion to serve underserved populations. While Dr. Davis provided care for patients in Ellensburg, Washington, Dr. Magallanes looked after the oral healthcare needs of patients in Bakersfield, California.
A year into their loanship program, Drs. Magallanes and Davis said the program had helped them focus on providing care to patients rather than worry about their student loans. Dr. Magallanes has stayed working at the same community health center for over six years. “The grant from UHF gave me freedom from the burden of student loans that allowed me to focus on treating patients and developing my skills,” she said.
Seven years later, almost all loanship recipients have echoed the same sentiment.
Dr. Joshua Davidson, another dentist and loanship recipient said that the program lessened his student loan burden and allowed him to “do work that mattered instead of worrying about a loan.”
For Dr. Martin Sobieraj, another dentist and loanship recipient, “the loan repayment program was a blessing. “They provided me with money toward repaying my student loans and that has given me an amazing dental experience. I provide comprehensive dentistry to patients that value my dentistry and thus I value my patients greatly.”
Pediatric dentist, Dr. Andrea Livingood said the reporting requirements for the loanship program gave her time to reflect and allowed her to pause and evaluate what she was doing from a broader perspective.
The program later added primary care physicians from ATSU’s osteopathic medical schools in Kirksville, Missouri and Mesa, Arizona. The loanship provide “an incentive for practicing in an underserved area,” said Dr. Norma Salas.
During the last seven years, the program has helped countless patients in different parts of the country by providing them a continuum of compassionate, high quality care. Patient stories talk about how much they value the care they have received from these providers. Above everything, they said they were treated with dignity as human beings, even though they faced multiple barriers in accessing affordable care.
Give the gift of smiles
For millions of struggling individuals and families, lack of insurance and low incomes prevent access to oral healthcare. These barriers cut across age, gender, and race.
Living on a limited income, 79-year-old Evelyn Harris was faced with choosing for the care of her disabled husband or receiving much needed dental services for herself. After years of neglect and discomfort, Evelyn required several fillings, restorative work, and a crown. A visit to a dental office for treatment without insurance would have cost her hundreds of dollars.
It seemed that dental care was out of Evelyn’s reach until she was connected with A.T. Still University's Smile Forward® program.
Funded through the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations, Smile Forward® provides routine and more complex oral health services to those with little or no dental insurance and who demonstrate financial need. Patients receive care at university-affiliated community clinics in Mesa and Glendale, Ariz., and at the St. Louis Dental Education and Oral Health Clinic in St. Louis, MO.
Through Smile Forward, Evelyn received her extensive dental treatment at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH)’s main community clinic in Arizona, thanks to a grant from the Cigna Foundation.
Drabing Human Patient Simulation Center established
Motivated by a deep appreciation of those who went before him and a desire for osteopathic medical education to flourish in the future, John H. Drabing, DO, ’61, continues on a course of exceptional generosity at the founding school of his profession. Flowing from his deep appreciation for the medical education received as a 1961 graduate of the Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery (now ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine), Dr. Drabing is determined to see that those who follow in his footsteps will also benefit from an outstanding experience at ATSU.
Dr. Drabing’s recent contribution of $1 million was recognized by ATSU in naming the Dr. John H. and Sally J. Drabing Human Patient Simulation Center located in the Interprofessional Education Building on the Missouri campus. His gift, in the form of appreciated stock, created a charitable gift annuity that provides him with a favorable income stream for life, current and future income tax reduction, and funds at his passing for an operational endowment and unrestricted gift dollars to help reduce annual tuition increases.
In looking back on a long record of service and support to his graduate alma mater and profession, Dr. Drabing offers this perspective on his motivation for it all.
“Being on the Board of Trustees of ATSU for nine years made me much more aware of the needs for the college,” said Dr. Drabing. “The enthusiasm of the student body was invigorating and inspiring. The campus seemed alive with learning and activities. I hope this gift, paying forward so to speak, will enhance future student experiences at ATSU.”
An eye on the future and expression of gratitude
The life of Gary Campbell, DO, ’71, is a compelling story of hardships, growth, and opportunity. It is the impetus for his achievements and a passion to help students in need of financial support, as he once was. With an eye on the future, he has created the Gary H. Campbell, DO, Financial Award at ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) to benefit those who will follow in his footsteps.
Dr. Campbell considers himself fortunate to have been accepted by ATSU-KCOM and to be a graduate of its class of 1971. He proudly notes that not only did he receive “an excellent education while in Kirksville,” but he also was the recipient of a student scholarship, without which he never would have been able to complete his education. During those years, government loans were non-existent and osteopathic physicians were ineligible for military funding until his senior year.
“So if it had not been for the school scholarship fund, I would not be in the position I am today,” says Dr. Campbell.
Throughout his life, Dr. Campbell has practiced osteopathic medicine in various venues: small towns, inner cities, and in solo- and group-practice settings. He’s also taught at two osteopathic schools, written several articles for osteopathic journals, and lectured at various osteopathic conventions. For the past 18 years, he has been involved in treating prison and jail inmates in the St. Louis area.
“The concepts of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still and the incredible training I received from my mentors in Kirksville provide my patients the best medical care possible, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to touch so many lives in such a personal and healing manner,” says Campbell. “My only hope is that whoever receives this financial aid will practice family medicine fully utilizing the concepts and ideals of Dr. Still.”
His wishes and legacy will live on in perpetuity as the endowment’s earnings each year provide for scholarship awards in his name.