Dallas clinic provides free multidisciplinary care

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David Harker, MD
Resident Physician, UT Southwestern Medical Center

male-doctor-icon.png Learn more from the dermatologist's perspective

Dr. harker's story

Every Saturday morning, a group of dermatologists from UT Southwestern Medical Center volunteers at the Agape Clinic, a free clinic in Dallas that provides cross-specialty health care to people who otherwise have no access to care.

We see a broad range of cases — everything from a teenager with a recurrent inflamed ingrown toenail who can’t practice soccer because he’s in pain, to an older patient with a debilitating widespread blistering disease. We also provide vital access to care for individuals with skin cancer, performing biopsies and excisions in clinic.

Each weekend, we staff the clinic with an attending dermatologist, a resident and multiple medical students. In addition to giving them a break from their studies, volunteering at the clinic provides the medical students with valuable hands-on experience in patient care — and all of us experience the joy of giving back to our community.

The dermatology clinic has grown steadily since its opening in 2003, and the community has embraced it. Thanks to the community’s donations, we have the equipment and resources to perform nearly all the services of a regular dermatology office — from treating simple infections to addressing serious autoimmune disorders — at no cost to patients. Local hospitals and clinics know to refer uninsured and underinsured patients to Agape, helping to close gaps in access to care.

Dermatologists work closely with community dermatopathologists and other specialists at the clinic, providing comprehensive, cross-disciplinary care to our patients. We collaborate with oncologists to excise melanoma and coordinate the necessary follow-up care, with ophthalmologists to check for retinal toxicity in patients with lupus, and rheumatologists to help manage arthritis and systemic autoimmune diseases.

We all practice medicine for different reasons, but volunteering at Agape reminds us that it’s not just a profession or a business — it’s a calling.

The Dermatologist's perspective

amit-pandya.jpgThe Agape Clinic is a standout resource for our community and a testament to the heart of Dallas. Growing from just a spark of an idea, it is a vital free clinic that treats nearly 1,000 dermatology patients a year on a completely free basis. As a father, I want my kids to grow up in a culture of service, and the Agape clinic reminds them that community service should be an ongoing part of everyone’s life. Dr. Harker and the other volunteers at Agape are a powerful example of physicians making a lifelong commitment to helping others. Every community could benefit from an Agape Clinic, and I encourage others to follow our model. You’ll be amazed by how many people join you once you get started.

Amit Pandya, MD
Professor, Department of Dermatology, UT Southwestern Medical Center