School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine


Cass Clinic was founded in the late ‘70s by a church missionary. Supplied with free pharmaceuticals from Park Davis, she opened the doors of the clinic once or twice a month to give patients not only free health care, but readings from the Bible as well. She continued to run the clinic until 1980, when Dr. Costea, looking to volunteer at a free clinic in Detroit, got in touch with her.

Working at a free clinic was nothing new to Dr. Costea. As a medical student in 1975, Dr. Costea had a rotation at Haight Ashbury, one of the original free clinics in San Francisco, the birthplace of the free clinic movement. To Dr. Costea, a free clinic is one that does more for the patient than provide free health care. A free clinic is one that provides patient care in a setting where someone off the street can walk in and feel comfortable and welcomed. A free clinic is also one that is able to put the sole interests of the patient first. To this effect, Cass Clinic does not accept any government aid or attempt to bill insurance companies, because doing so gives the clinic an authority, other than the patient, to answer to.

Since the clinic doesn’t accept aid from the government or money from insurance companies, it relies on volunteers and donated supplies. Cass Clinic benefits from the efforts of physician, local-area residents, and medical student volunteers. Cass Clinic also benefits from donated pharmaceuticals, personal hygiene supplies, and equipment from doctors, relief organizations, local residents, and students. And since Cass Clinic is an official volunteer activity for Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM), it has a small budget that is used to purchase additional supplies.

Because of the support the clinic receives, it is able to provide health care to the medically indigent population living in the area. This clinic benefits all parties involved from the patients to the volunteers. The patients benefit by receiving free health care; the volunteers, mostly students from WSUSOM, benefit by being able to apply knowledge gained in the classroom in a patient-care setting under the watchful eye of an attending physician.

Clinic Timeline  
  Late ‘70’s The clinic is open one or two Saturday’s a month.
  1980 Dr. Costea joined the clinic and keeps it open most Saturdays.
  1988 The first student volunteer, Carol Kowalczyk, a medical student at WSUSOM and then president of the Aesculpians, started volunteering at the clinic.
  1990 The Detroit Common Council officially recognized the Cass Clinic.
Physician Volunteers  
  1980 – Present Dr. George Costea
  1990 – 2004 Dr. Jenny Wetzel
  Present Dr. Rob Sherwin
Local-Area Coordinators
  1980 – 1992 Margaret “Molly” Rubino
  1992 – 2000 Vanita O’neal
  1994 – Present Russell Armstrong
  2006 – Present Wanda Sherrell
Student Coordinators