I’ve been lucky enough to secure two internships for this summer. This first is at Remote Area Medical (RAM) and the second at IntraHealth International.
RAM travels the country (and the world) creating “pop up” medical clinics for underserved populations in rural and remote areas. As RAM puts it,
Many people live in fear of sickness and injury simply because they have little or no access to basic medical care. RAM responds to this need by providing free, quality dental, vision, and medical care to those who cannot afford it. In less than 24 hours we turn fairgrounds, schools, jungles, and arenas into mobile medical centers.
I requested to work with RAM because I saw what amazing work they were doing at the domestic level with uninsured and vulnerable communities in the Appalachian Mountains. RAM has also expanded to work in any community that welcomes them. Sometimes the clients are from mountain communities; sometimes they are war veterans or homeless. Others are undocumented workers or from minority groups with little or genuinely no access to basic health care. In 2013 alone, there were over 41 million Americans without any health insurance. The US spends 16.9% of GDP on healthcare each year which is over 7 per cent more than the OECD average of 9.3%. Still, the country is ranked last for coverage amongst its peers.
Here are a few infographics that I believe tell an important story about the state of healthcare within the US today.
At RAM clinics, insurance status is never asked so anyone can come for vision care or dental work. The medical staff is made up of volunteers (mostly from the local community) and people can have teeth pulled, glasses made and a medical review within the same weekend (sometimes within the same day, depending on how busy the clinic is). On average, between 500-1000 people are seen per day. Recent clinics have been held throughout Tennessee, Virginia, California and upcoming clinics will include Texas and Nevada amongst others.
RAM’s mission is to “stop the suffering”. The people who visit these clinics have little money and many live in their cars for days in the lead up to the clinic in order to be seen as it runs on a ticketed “first in, first served” system. I’m hoping to help find ways to enhance the quality of care the people attending the clinics receive. This might include building health referral resource packages in other languages as well as finding ways to improve community knowledge about preventative health services for women and children especially. I also plan to assist in building referral networks for older people in areas of social and mental health support and vaccination. I feel lucky to be able to work with such an inspiring organization and encourage you to check out their good work at the following website or check out the movie on Netflix Instant, Amazon or on iTunes. I hope Rotary may be able to work alongside them one day soon as I know some clubs in Kentucky have done so in the past.
Whilst RAM’s work is primarily domestic at the moment, IntraHealth champions the international health worker and aims to “foster local solutions to health care challenges by improving health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships”.
At IntraHealth I have been tasked with building the advocacy surrounding Respectful Maternity Care. For me, this is one of the most meaningful things I have ever had the privilege to work on. As a Registered Nurse-Midwife, I place an extremely high value on the quality of health care women receive, especially in pregnancy, childbirth and the surrounding period of time. The weaker a health system and more obstacles a health worker faces, the more likely rates of disrespect and abuse during childbirth will increase. Please see these two great links for a quick infographic video about Respectful Maternity Care.
Break the Silence: Respectful Maternity Care https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K105F9o3HtU
The Right to Respectful maternity Care https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO3kQhZwk44
Unfortunately, not all women are treated well during labor and birth. I’ve personally witnessed women being kicked, slapped, hit, yelled at, slandered, mocked and abandoned whilst having their babies. It was some of the most heartbreaking moments of my career and I swore to help put an end to this silent epidemic. If women don’t feel safe and respected at a health facility, they will not attend when it’s time to give birth and we cannot hope to reduce the high maternal mortality ratios many low and middle income countries experience as a result.
At IntraHealth I am helping to build the organization’s voice on this important human rights issue and raise awareness on how disrespect and abuse in childbirth can (and must) be stopped. Look out for our campaign, coinciding with 16 Days of Activism for Ending Violence Against Women (#VAW, #Enddisrespect) in November 2015. Until then I will be advocating with my own voice and opinions via Facebook and Twitter amongst other social media avenues so please feel free to find me, friend me, follow me and help bring dignity and safety back to women and to childbirth.
More information on IntraHealth can be found at www.intrahealth.org
More information on Remote Area Medical can be found at www.ramusa.org or view the movie “Remote Area Medical” on iTunes, Amazon or Netflix Instant now
Please feel free to contact me about these two amazing organizations via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @beccahbartlett