Interview with Toni Johnson-Chavis
QUESTION 8
JACKIE SHEARER:

So, you're in medical school, tell us the story of this clinic you set up.

TONI JOHNSON-CHAVIS:

In medical school, during the first year, ah, continue, in the continuation of the fervor from undergraduate school, in terms of wanting to have some community commitment at the same time that I was doing a curriculum, several Black students decided that a community approach, something that we could offer, was to help start a clinic, ah, with a particular goal of trying to look for things that affected primarily Black, ah, people. One of the things that was most important to us was hypertension. We set up a clinic that worked on Saturdays in Del Paso Heights, we, that's in Sacramento, very close to Davis, maybe 13 miles away. We started in a little storefront that was actually in Sacramento and then we were able to get permission for use of a clinic on Saturdays. And we would monitor blood pressure and do nutritional lectures and those were the type of things. We were--

JACKIE SHEARER:





JACKIE SHEARER:

TONI JOHNSON-CHAVIS:

Yeah, we were--

JACKIE SHEARER:

Oh, I'm sorry. OK.

TONI JOHNSON-CHAVIS:

We're in a clinic, ah, we were in a clinic in Del Paso Heights, Sacramento. There were about ten medical students, all Black. There were a couple Filipinos, a couple, ah, Hispanic guys that were also there. And we were ostensibly doing, ah, checking for hypertension, doing nutritional lectures about how you could change things, reviewing medications with the patients. We were medical students but we had a couple people who were physicians who backed us up at the clinic. Quickly, we were really surprised, it was Del Paso Heights, Sacramento, which was ostensibly again supposed to be Black and that's what we thought we were going to be dealing with minority patients. By the second Saturday, 50 percent of our patients were, were White. And that progressed to more and more. So, we then went back to our class, because we needed more people to help us, because it was more of a success than we thought, to see if we could get other people, solicit help from the other students in the classroom. We could not solicit help from any of the other, ah, students in the classroom, White. On one occasion, I particularly remember talking to, ah, one of the White students in the class and asked him, why wouldn't he help? And he said, "Well, I just don't have the time. It's at a distance and I don't particularly care to go to 'that area'." And when I described, "But do you realize that this area is a little rural and it's actually not, not all Black, it's primarily actually White, poor Whites were in the area and we very much need extra help." And what his response was is that he didn't go to medical school to take care of poor people. It didn't matter, Black or White. He went to medical school because he wanted to make money, ah, and he was not going to ac- ah, give up any of his free time to "go to that area, and take care of poor people, Black or White". And I was astounded at that type of attitude. But we could not solicit one White student from the classroom to help us in that project.