There is an Indianapolis native who is making a huge impact in the tristate area and the state of West Virginia. Alex Vance heard about the Marshall University Biomedical Science program from an alumna, Dr. Amy Nash, while he was working as a cytotechnologist in Indiana. “I moved to Huntington, earned my master’s degree from Marshall and decided I wanted to continue my medical education with the same program,” said Alex. The third-year medical student is heavily involved with the Marshall Medical Outreach (MMO) core team, a program that provides medical care for the homeless and those at risk for homelessness in the city of Huntington. The MMO is in its sixth year under Dr. Charles Clements and offers primary care, ophthalmology and dermatology services. The Marshall University School of Pharmacy is also present to fulfill prescriptions free of charge. The group distributes hygiene items and provides water during this monthly event at Trinity Episcopal Church. When flooding devastated West Virginia in June, Congressman Evan Jenkins personally called Dr. Clements to help the affected flood areas because of the successful efforts MMO provides. “Sara Dusing, a fourth-year medical student, and I worked with the administration of Cabell Huntington Hospital to spearhead a medical relief effort,” Alex said. Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital sent physicians, Marshall University medical and pharmacy students, administrators, security guards, maintenance staff and more to provide relief. Personally managing the signup list, Alex remarked that he was amazed at the variety of backgrounds that were willing to help. “When news of the flood first came out, I saw news reports and social media posts about the devastation, but nothing can quite compare to what I saw when I was in Rainelle and Greenbrier County. Imagine your home – the furniture, books, clothes, rugs, electronics, pictures, artwork and personal belongings; now imagine them piled in your front lawn, soaked in rainwater and caked in dirt and oil,” he explained. “To witness it, firsthand, was emotionally moving, but to experience it, I imagine, was something quite worse. Despite all this loss, the locals were some of the kindest and gracious patients I have had the pleasure to help.” The aspiring primary care doctor was amazed at the people they met during their time in Rainelle from Texas, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia who sacrificed their holiday weekend to assist others. “It speaks volumes for neighboring states, as well as the people of Marshall University, the School of Medicine and Pharmacy and Cabell Huntington Hospital,” he observed. Crediting his community involvement to his father, a Lutheran minister, and his mother, a physician in Indiana, Alex has worked with various community service projects since high school. He particularly enjoys MMO because it advances his aspiration for medically focused community service; however, as an avid reader, it did not take much to convince Alex to help restock the Rainelle Public Library. Fellow third-year medical student Melissa Saab and Alex organized a small Facebook campaign and sent emails to the Marshall community and Cabell Huntington Hospital employees to restore the library to its former glory. “The response, like the Rainelle medical effort, was beyond words,” Alex said. “We are currently storing approximately 5,000- 6,000 books until the Rainelle Library is refinished.” “What I gathered from this experience is that it is important to be aware of the need of a community, whatever that need may be. In my mind, the ultimate goal of a physician is to put yourself in a position to improve the lives around you. From my experience with working with the MMO core team in this effort, I want to always be aware of the need, where I might be, and do my best to work on addressing that need as a physician,” he said. A Student Relief Fund has been established at The Marshall University Foundation, Inc. to assist students affected by the flooding. To read more about this fund, visit ucomm/disaster-assistance-fund/. If you would like to contribute, you may mail a check made payable to “The Marshall University Foundation” with “Student Relief Fund” in the memo to The Marshall University Foundation, Inc., 519 John Marshall Dr. Huntington, WV 25703, or you may make an online gift by visiting the link above. Due to the lack of storage space and their schedules as medical students, the book drive has currently been suspended; however, if someone would like to make a donation, he or she may send a message to the “Rainelle Public Library Book Drive” Facebook page. Student Spotlight “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist WWW.MARSHALL.EDU/FOUNDATION Pictured: The Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall University School of Pharmacy helped flood victims this summer.