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UAB to Open Health Clinic in Downtown Birmingham

Store-front clinic will increase access for Birmingham\'s underserved

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has leased space in the Watts Tower Building downtown to set up a storefront wellness clinic.

The first-floor clinic, which will be operated by UAB's Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, will offer free health screenings, consultations, courses and other educational efforts on a walk-in and appointment basis, said Mona Fouad, the center's director.

It will be an extension of the center's outreach programs, which already run health screenings and other services in several Birmingham neighborhoods. Fouad said the new UAB HealthSmart clinic at 20th Street and Third Avenue North will allow the program to reach a new audience.

"We thought it would be a good thing for us as a Minority Health and Health Disparities Center to get outside the walls of UAB and go downtown," she said. "There are a lot of people that come in from a lot of areas to work in downtown Birmingham. Maybe they can take things back to their community."

The HealthSmart project, which is funded by UAB, private fundraising and national grants, is based in part on models in St. Louis and other cities but tailored to Birmingham's needs, Fouad said.

It's the university's first foray into the heart of the downtown business district, said officials at Operation New Birmingham, which has been talking to the university about the project for about a year.

The clinic plans to open in February and will offer programs just before and after work and at lunch time. It will be staffed by public health workers, nurses, students and possibly by volunteers from the UAB faculty, including physicians and dentists.

Visitors will be able to come in for short sessions to get their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screened and be referred elsewhere for further care. Staff will also offer advice and classes on exercise, healthy eating and other topics, and computers will be available for online information on health topics.

Fouad said clinic organizers also plan to talk to City Hall and downtown businesses, including banks, to offer their services to employees, and may set up a downtown walking program. "We have a lot of ideas," she said.

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