Albanian-born med. student creates free health clinic to bridge language gap
At first glance, the gymnasium inside St. Anthony High School on Milwaukee's south side looked like a typical community health clinic -- full of patients, stethoscopes and blood tests.
But as you passed each health station, you could hear discussions about blood pressure, aches and pains playing out in Albanian.
\"This is definitely a lot more comfortable,\" Mehmet Stermolli said. \"This is a community event.\"
Mehmet's family moved to Milwaukee from Albania in 2000. His parents only go to the doctor when they're sick, in part because of culture, but mainly due to the language gap.
\"Every single time my parents go to the doctor I have to go with them,\" Stermolli said. \"So, I'm translating or we're bringing a translator with.\"
It's a common problem in the tightly-knit eastern-European community on Milwaukee's southeast side -- and one that fellow immigrant Mario Ademaj decided to help solve.
\"Most of these workers, because they don't speak English, they can't get better jobs,\" Ademaj said. \"So they start working manual labor, hard work, back-breaking work.\"
The third-year University of Wisconsin medical student organized his free health clinic in about two months.
\"It's not even the fact that they don't have access to primary care, but it's the fact that they don't have access to knowledge or information or how to go about it,\" Ademaj said.
\"When you can integrate a whole health care team -- students, nurses, dieticians, doctors all working together, working in a community setting, having the kids play -- This is a great setting,\" Dr. Patrick McBride said. The cardiology specialist and UW Med school professor was one of many volunteers to help out at Ademaj's clinic.
The student helped create a setting where basic health issues can sound a little more manageable - no matter what language you speak.
\"You can't tackle all the health problems that exist here in Milwaukee or here in Wisconsin, but if you can do one part, if everyone can do one part, we can solve a great deal of problems,\" Ademaj said.
Mario tells CBS-58 News he wanted his clinic to be a way, in part, to thank his parents for sacrificing their careers in another country to help him live out his dreams in America. Ademaj will graduate from UW in 2016.