Tom Heflin

TOM HEFLIN, 24 Board of advisers, Charm City Clinic | Patterson Park Tom Heflin didn't decide to go to Johns Hopkins medical school just because, well, it's Johns Hopkins medical school. When touring colleges, the Placerville, Calif., native couldn't help but notice the close proximity of Hopkins' vaunted medical institution to the poverty-stricken East Baltimore neighborhood of McElderry Park. Heflin applied to many med schools -- Yale, Northwestern, Columbia -- but he got the feeling that Hopkins was where he should go, that this was where there was a need for him to fill. "This kind of poverty I saw ... I didn't grow up with it," said Heflin, who was raised on an apple orchard. "I was struck by it, the dichotomy of it, with the Hopkins buildings and the boarded-up homes." In the first week of school in 2009, he told his class his idea -- a free clinic in the neighborhood. Last March, Charm City Clinic opened at the Men & Families Center, a trusted resource for McElderry Park community members. The clinic is open every Saturday, staffed by area medical school students (most from Hopkins and University of Maryland), undergraduates and community members. People can be screened for hypertension and diabetes and get information on prenatal care. Many don't know exactly what type of health insurance they qualify for -- or if they qualify at all. After visits, most patients get follow-ups, including phone calls or home visits. "The best is when we see people who haven't seen a doctor in 10 years and then within a month they are covered by insurance and get a primary care doctor," said Heflin. "When it goes right, it makes looking at yourself in the mirror a lot easier." JORDAN BARTEL, B
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