WATCH VIDEO: Bart Rose, Mario Martinez and Michael Lintner
Bart Rose, Mario Martinez and Michael Lintner
Presented by Illinois Mutual
Medical students don’t have a ton of spare time. Between classes, hospital work and studying, there’s barely a moment’s rest.
Nonetheless, when they saw a need, three energetic students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine made time.
Bart Rose, Mario Martinez and Michael Lintner diagnosed a problem in Peoria: A portion of the population lacks access to primary care, lacks knowledge to make better lifestyle decisions, lacks information about largely preventable ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
So the trio set about a cure. They created a program to reach people who might only otherwise encounter a doctor after it’s too late. They called the project HEARTs (Health Education Awareness and Resource Teams).
HEARTs takes Bart, Mario and Mike off UICOMP’s campus and out to churches and community centers. They’ll screen people for hypertension and high blood sugar. They’ll talk about diet and exercise. They’ll answer questions about chronic diseases — and they’ll do it in Spanish.
Indeed, part of their goal is to reach the city’s Hispanic population and tear down the language barrier, which can be a barrier to health-care access. Mike, who hails from Nicaragua, speaks four languages. California native Mario is bilingual. The young men try to make people comfortable, even make them laugh.
“There is sometimes a notion that doctors are very stuffy and aloof,” says Bart, also from California. With HEARTs, he says, “You don’t necessarily have to worry about being proper. You just have to convey the message.”
The three have made major strides. Some 500 people are better informed about their health. About two dozen know they have high blood pressure. And thanks to HEARTs, Bart says, at least one woman is now aware that she’s diabetic.
Perhaps the best thing about the program is that it will continue after Bart and Mike graduate this May; they’ve drafted younger classmates to join the cause.
Sure, medical students are busy. But the trade-off is well worth it, Mario says.
“I find it very rewarding to go out to the public and spread knowledge that people don’t otherwise get.”
*Michael Lintner is not pictured.