Due to restrictions imposed by federal regulations, HAVEN Free Clinic, a clinic run by Yale medical students in Fair Haven, will move its offices to the Yale Physicians Building on Feb. 25.
HAVEN has operated out of the Fair Haven Community Health Center’s Grand Avenue offices since its inception. In 2015, however, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration conducted its regular review of HAVEN’s operational structure. The agency determined that HAVEN and FHCHC could not be considered distinct entities, leaving the free clinic subject to federal regulations, executive director Hannah Alter MED ’18 said.
The change encouraged the clinic’s leadership to relocate in order to allow for “more operational flexibility, autonomy and the ability to expand,” although HAVEN had already been complying with these regulations while at Fair Haven, Alter said.
According to Jana Young NUR ’18, one of the clinic’s other executive directors, the HAVEN board explored different locations that would allow the clinic to continue offering the same breadth of services. Yale Medicine, the clinical practice of the School of Medicine, proved to be a promising partner because it already had existing clinical space and facilities, she added.
In its new offices at the Yale Physicians Building on Howard Avenue, HAVEN hopes to expand its reach to the entire New Haven community, said Samantha Ross SPH ’17, another executive director.
“The new partnership will further strengthen Yale and HAVEN’s shared goals of community engagement and student education,” the clinic’s executive directors said in a statement. “Additionally, the new location in downtown New Haven will provide HAVEN with an exciting opportunity to expand the clinic’s scope beyond a single neighborhood and to serve uninsured individuals who reside all across our city, giving student volunteers more opportunities to learn.”
According to Ross, the clinic currently serves about 350 patients every year, with volunteers seeing an average of 40 patients per week. As the only free clinic in the area, HAVEN serves as a safety net for New Haven residents who have no other means of obtaining health care, Ross said.
In addition to offering primary care services, HAVEN provides wellness education, social services, legal screening and reproductive health counseling. Alter noted that these additional services allow the clinic to address the holistic needs of patients.
“HAVEN is a wonderful endeavor that represents the best of our medical profession, caring for some of the most underserved in our community,” said HAVEN faculty advisor Peter Ellis, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
Young added that the clinic’s relocation closer to the heart of Yale’s campus could help draw more volunteers to the program. Currently, nearly 400 volunteers contribute to the clinic, including students from Yale College and almost every graduate program on campus. More than 30 physicians from the Yale School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Physician Associate Program and the FHCHC volunteer at HAVEN as well, Young said.
Although HAVEN’s relocation will provide new opportunities for prospective patients and volunteers, one drawback involves moving away from current clients. However, the clinic will offer a variety of options to patients to ensure that all of them can continue their routine health maintenance, Ross said.
The HAVEN leadership board plans to keep the clinic fully operational during the transition process. The team will complete most of the physical moving in the weeks before the relocated clinic opens its doors on Feb. 25.
“Yale Medicine has been extremely gracious in allowing us access to the building in the upcoming weeks in order to prepare for opening,” Ross said. “Because the new space has a different layout than our current space, many logistics surround thinking about how we will redesign clinic flow.”