Published: Nov. 10, 2015

New Merida health clinic opens doors for MSU, College of Osteopathic Medicine

Contact(s): Laura Probyn College of Osteopathic Medicine office: (517) 884-3755

A new health clinic, opening this month in Merida, Mexico, is a central point for activities between the state and MSU that’s been years in the making.

The clinic, which was built by the Yucatan Department of Health, will house researchers, doctors, residents and students from the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. It is located in Hospital General Dr. Agustín O'Horán, one of the city's main hospitals, and includes examination rooms equipped with treatment tables and office space for doctors and researchers.

“This is a very real example of how we’re addressing President Simon’s goals for expanding MSU’s reputation as a world-grant university,” MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine dean William Strampel said. “We’ve established a presence in the city and built relationships that will benefit MSU students, faculty and medical residents while serving a great need for quality health care among Merida residents.”

Administrators and faculty members from the college and the MSU Institute of International Health have been working with leaders at the health department and the hospital for about five years. The college was also responsible for connecting the state with Project CURE, a nonprofit organization that supplied the Yucatan’s first hemodialysis machines for people suffering from kidney disease.

“This clinic is the culmination of a partnership that we established several years ago. In addition to providing numerous opportunities for medical education for residents from Mexico and Michigan, we’re advancing osteopathic medicine and we’re serving a population in need of health care,” said William Cunningham, assistant dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in West Michigan and interim director of the IIH.

Jake Rowan, associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine, was based in Merida from 2012 to 2013, and he worked from temporary spaces in a number of locations in or near the hospital while there. He said he appreciated the challenge and the opportunities that working internationally presented.

Rowan is now the co-director of medical education at the Merida clinic, along with Catherine Donahue, an assistant professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine. Donahue recently relocated to Merida and she is connecting with local doctors who will provide referrals and getting the facility ready to open its doors on Nov. 23.

“I’m very passionate about osteopathic manipulative medicine and using my hands to help people, and that’s not something they know about here,” Donahue said. “Not only do I have the opportunity to help people, but I have the opportunity to educate them. That’s the thing that I’m most excited about.”

In addition to caring for patients and educating MSUCOM students who will begin arriving in February, Donahue and Rowan are working with researchers from other MSU colleges to help them establish studies in the Yucatan. Scientists from engineering, veterinary medicine, natural science and social science are exploring opportunities in the area.

Left to right, Miguel Cabrera, director of Beneficencia of Yucatan, Rowan, Donahue, Carlos Enrique Espadas, director of O'Horan Hospital and Cunningham prepare to place a banner in the nearly completed clinic.

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