Community Outreach

Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic

student Michael Blanco examining a patient.

Each year, eight UB medical students, including infectious disease manager Michael Blanco (right), volunteer to manage the clinic.

This nonprofit, drop-in clinic provides free, routine health care and preventive services to uninsured patients on Buffalo’s East Side.

It is entirely managed and funded through the work of eight UB medical students each year, working in partnership with the community service organization Group Ministries.

The clinic also involves hundreds of volunteers, including UB medical students and faculty-physicians.

Kirk Scirto, MD, clinical assistant professor of family medicine, serves as the clinic’s main faculty adviser.

Providing Needed Care to Underserved Patients

Medical students and UB students in other professional programs help address unmet health needs in this medically underserved community. The services they provide include:

  • physicals
  • routine care (sick visits)
  • referrals
  • screenings for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension
  • support for social and economic problems
  • counseling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • nutrition counseling
  • health insurance information/enrollment assistance

Interdisciplinary Teams Address Care Holistically

Taking a holistic approach to health care and social needs, the medical students work as part of an interdisciplinary team that includes the local health department and UB students preparing to be dietitians, social workers, dentists and pharmacists.

Community Connections Help Build Trust

Lighthouse has established itself as a valuable and trusted asset in the community.

“The community has come to appreciate the clinic, given that there are many without access to needed medical care,” says Scirto, who served as a Lighthouse manager while earning his medical degree at UB.

“The students have been invaluable,” says the Rev. Charles Biegner of Resurrection Lutheran Church. “The enthusiasm remains and the torch is being passed from one group [of medical students] to the next.”

A Way to Give Back

The clinic’s story began in 1998, when two first-year medical students, Richard Newell and Gerard Silva, decided to make a difference.

“We thought we were very blessed to be as well off as we were. But in the community right outside the medical school we saw a lot of poverty and a lot of need,” says Newell.

Their idea come to fruition in 2001 when the clinic opened in the basement of Resurrection Lutheran Church at Genesee and Doat streets.

Local, National Awards Recognize Clinic’s Contributions

The Lighthouse Clinic and its participants have been honored with numerous awards, including the following:


461 Williams Street, Buffalo, N.Y. 14204

Phone: (716) 222-0805



How To Volunteer

Medical students from all class years are encouraged to volunteer.

Email for more information.

News About the Lighthouse Clinic