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It’s easy to see that health care is filled with disparities. Across the country—including in Houston, our newest program location—The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is doing something about it.

Now midway through its first year, the Houston-Galveston Schweitzer Fellows Program supports area graduate students in making a serious commitment to their communities. From establishing a nutrition and health care support program for local refugees, to supporting formerly chemically dependent mothers in navigating their reentry to society, these leaders in service are already making a difference in the health, and lives, of Houston and Galveston’s most vulnerable.

Case in point: Houston Schweitzer Fellows Don Stader and Mary Weeks. As leaders of the Texas Emergency Medicine Interest Group (EMIG), these Baylor College of Medicine students saw firsthand that no matter how high the level of clinical care provided, many Emergency Center visits—often the only medical visits for uninsured and low-income individuals—end up being missed opportunities.

Due to cultural or linguistic barriers, these patients’ disease processes are often not fully explained to them. They are unaware of important test results and unclear about follow-up directions. As a result, they leave the ER lacking a clear idea of how (and why) to fill their medications, apply for gold cards, and seek insurance.

Stader and Weeks wanted to do something to address these trends at the local level—so they applied for the Schweitzer Fellowship and launched the Ben Taub Patient Education Initiative. By training health care providers as culturally competent patient educators, the Ben Taub Patient Education Initiative’s overall goal is to empower patients with the knowledge to fully care for themselves once they leave the Emergency Center (EC) at Ben Taub General Hospital.

Over the next few days, we’ll give you an in-depth look at this Schweitzer project’s development. Check back tomorrow and Wednesday for powerful vignettes about real patients for whom the Ben Taub Patient Education Initiative has made a difference.

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