Students Celebrate 9th Birthday of CoSMO Clinic
CoSMO, the Columbia Student Medical Outreach Clinic, started as an idea in 2000 when a group of P&S students saw a gap in sustainable primary care for uninsured patients in Washington Heights. After four years of work, the clinic opened in 2004 and is now the oldest and largest student-run free clinic at P&S. CoSMO averages 44 patient visits each month.
CoSMO has now become a medical home for our patients. Students from all four CUMC schools provide 96 percent of the clinic's operations: patient care, quality assurance, fundraising, institutional relations, and finance. An advisory board of CUMC deans and hospital administrators provides institutional support that gives us a reputation comparable to that of any outpatient clinic at our medical center. The hospital's general medicine department routinely refers uninsured patients to CoSMO, where patients have access to medical visits, lab tests, radiology, and medication without charge. With the clinic completely run by volunteers, 99 percent of donations go directly to patient care, largely to fund medications. (The other 1 percent buys bagels for our volunteers on clinic days.) CoSMO is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and one Thursday a month for a primary care clinic and a behavioral health clinic for patients who have predominantly psychiatric concerns.
Recent developments at CoSMO include a move to the second floor of 21 Audubon, which gives us CoSMO its own waiting room, five exam rooms, three consult rooms, and a staff lounge. CoSMO also now shares the hospital's electronic medical record system, enabling better tracking of patient care. Six students make up a quality assurance committee to improve the quality of care, and a new health educator curriculum provides patient education in clinic.
More information about the clinic, including ways to support CoSMO, is available at our website, www.cosmoprimarycare.org. All of us involved in CoSMO encourage you to learn more about us and consider supporting our goals.