At The Baton Rouge Clinic, the mission to provide health and wellness care to the entire community extends beyond the walls of the BRC facilities. Over the course of its 75-year history, the Clinic’s staff and physicians have become deeply involved in dozens of outreach initiatives.
For example, the Clinic has served as a sponsor for the Colon Cancer Coalition, The Emerge Center, Quota International of Baton Rouge Charitable Trust, Alzheimer’s Services, Healthy Kids Running Series, Race For The Cure, Heart Walk, Bengal Belles, Farmer’s Market, Dreams Come True, Pat’s Coats for Kids, and many others.
As part of these sponsorships, Clinic staff have participated in events, walks and other activities and have supported fundraising efforts such as galas and benefits.
“I think sometimes people are somewhat surprised and excited to see how involved we are,” said Dr. Michael Rolfsen, who has worked at The Baton Rouge Clinic since 1987 and is heavily involved in many outreach efforts. “It has been unusual in the past for people in the medical field to cross over outside the office and do things like this, so when we do it, it’s very welcome and exciting.”
Michael Acaldo, President and CEO of St. Vincent de Paul Baton Rouge, has seen the impact of that outreach firsthand. Acaldo said Baton Rouge Clinic physicians and staff have been instrumental figures in programs like St. Vincent de Paul’s community pharmacy, clothing drives, fundraising efforts and more. It also isn’t uncommon for Acaldo to reach out to Clinic President and CEO Ed Silvey for guidance about how to help the community.
“These are people who are extraordinarily giving of their time and talent,” Acaldo said. “That is what you see from the doctors and staff at the Clinic. They really do care for the entire community and I think they have a remarkable tradition of providing health care not only to patients, but in a broader sense to the community at large through the various work they do and projects they support.”
Dr. Rolfsen said he and others have developed a particular passion for working with organizations that are involved in addressing social determinants of health, such as poverty, education and food insecurity. He noted that the Clinic has been at the forefront of collecting donations for local food banks, providing medications through the St. Vincent de Paul pharmacy and collecting warm clothing for children during the winter.
In addition, Dr. Rolfsen and others from the Clinic work closely with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to address poverty issues. Several BRC staff are also on the mayor’s COVID-19 task force, which continues to meet monthly to discuss vaccination efforts, testing and more.
“I think it’s important that all health care providers realize that social determinants are becoming more important,” Dr. Rolfsen said. “Those things were not stressed when I went through medical training, but nowadays, they are being recognized as even more important than office visits.”
On the education front, Dr. Rolfsen and others have recently worked with the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition on a health scholars program as part of an effort to recruit more minority students into medical professions. Many BRC staff, including physicians, nurses, technicians, and others, met with students via Zoom to discuss their jobs and how youth can position themselves to enter those fields.
“I think it’s exciting and important that they learn about health care outside of the office,” Dr. Rolfsen said.
As a pediatrician, Dr. Mindy Calandro is drawn to community work that is centered on youth, children and families. Dr. Calandro said she has been especially excited about participating in a healthy running series for kids, Dreams Come True projects for children with chronic health issues and awareness campaigns about the dangers of keeping children in hot vehicles.
“This is our community and we want to take care of it,” Dr. Calandro said. “I want to make sure our kids are growing, they’re healthy and they are reaching their potential. All of this work in the community helps improve the overall health of our patients.”
Dr. Calandro said she’s already looking forward to upcoming efforts such as back-to-school campaigns and promoting flu vaccines in the fall.
“We’re always thrilled to participate because this is our home, too,” Dr. Calandro said. “We’ve been here in Baton Rouge through thick and thin and we want to continue to support our community.”
Besides sponsorships and active hands-on involvement, the Clinic has also provided support via donations to multiple groups, including the Arthritis Foundation, Grief Recovery Center, Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, ALS Association, Bella Bowman Foundation, Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge, Friends of False River and others.
Acaldo said the willingness of Baton Rouge Clinic staff to raise awareness and funds for its community pharmacy has contributed to thousands of local residents receiving the life-saving medications they need. The pharmacy provides free prescription medicine to people without insurance or who do not have the financial resources to purchase it.
“They have literally saved lives of patients who would otherwise go without heart medicine, high blood pressure medicine, diabetes medicine and many others,” Acaldo said. “It’s been an amazing community impact that they have made. Our community is very fortunate to have a health care organization that cares so much and has helped us make a difference. The support they have provided is extraordinary.”
The outreach is also meaningful for the Clinic’s physicians and staff, Dr. Calandro noted.
“I think it’s rewarding for them to step outside the walls and see how far-reaching our impact can be,” she said. “You realize what impact you can have across the community. It means a lot when you can do something like help provide prescriptions for patients to keep them out of the hospital or educate families about healthy living. I think it’s great to get into the community and experience that.”
Dr. Rolfsen agreed and said he’s been especially impressed with the willingness of Clinic staff to step up in ways big and small. Aside from participating in large community events, Dr. Rolfsen noted that it isn’t unusual to find people from the Clinic coaching youth sports teams or working with local Scout troops each weekend.
“We’ve actually had patients who come to the Clinic because they met us outside the Clinic at something we’re involved in,” he said. “They see us out there doing good things and see us as a good community partner. It really makes me excited about working here.”
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