Sunday, November 21, 2010

Okay, okay--I never said I was obsessive about blogging. Is it really so bad to go a full year (and then some) between posts?

Since I last blogged I have changed jobs, applied to graduate school, begun graduate school, and dropped out of graduate school. I can't figure out why I couldn't be successful at school AND work 60 hours a week. I guess it's a lot easier to go without sleep when one is 20 years old (which I am not!).

I now work at a clinic for the indigent, homeless, and/or uninsured. When I first started we were housed in an old single-wide trailer on the campus of a shelter for the homeless. There were two exam rooms cluttered with broken furniture, boxes of old charts, and useless donations from people who assuaged their consciences by dropping off expired or unwanted supplies. Oh, and the ever-present roaches--some dead, but most of them were living and scurrying about. Some days the heating/cooling system worked; some days it didn't. When it rained, water ran down the walls and accumulated on the floor in one corner. The plumbing was usually reliable, but sometimes the whole place stank of raw sewage. The patients came in droves and waited stoically until each one was seen, sent to the local emergency room, or turned away because the nurse practitioner was too exhausted to be able to render safe, effective care. No matter how long they had to wait, they were almost always grateful for whatever service we could offer.

A collection of churches and other agencies underwrote a campaign to raise money for new corporate offices and included our clinic as part of the fund-raising campaign. We have been featured on the TV (a couple of times) and in magazines and newspapers (several times). There is a whole political slant to this part of the story, and I won't say anymore.

Now we have moved into a beautiful, new clinic with working sinks and toilets and no roaches. With the current state of the economy (and due to the news coverage), we have been inundated with people who were formerly middle class but who now face medical problems without benefit of jobs or medical insurance coverage. Sometimes they cry because of "how far they have fallen." Some of our long-time patients don't come anymore. Are they overwhelmed by the gorgeous new clinic? Do they feel undeserving? I don't know, but I miss them. Health care professionals who would not give us the time of day when we were in the old location are now offering to volunteer by the dozens. I guess they only want to render care in safe, clean, and socially-acceptable environments. Whatever.

We have a medical director (a local physician) who volunteers with us every other week. Sometimes he brings medical students with him. Last summer he had a young man "shadowing" him. This young man is a junior at a major state university; he is interested in becoming a physician, so he arranged to "shadow" Dr. C to find out if this was the profession for him. K (the young man) was very compassionate, sensitive, and non-judgmental about our clientele. When the summer was over he approached me and asked what the clinic needed that he could supply. I told him that D (the clinical manager) and I were buying toilet paper and paper towels with our own money because there was no budget for it. K went back to the university and organized a supplies drive with his pre-med club. To date he has delivered two carloads of toilet paper, paper towels, and antiseptic wipes. Today he told me that he will probably have another load by Christmas. I won't have to buy toilet paper or paper towels for about six months. Yea, K! Thank you for being a leader and all-around great young man.

Sorry for the long, rambling post. It's just an odd assortment of things on my mind today!


  1. I AM SO SO SO SO SO SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK! And I love this story. Perhaps my students could also organize some kind of drive. What else do you need? Love you! Mwah!

  2. I am so proud of my two sisters--my bestest friends. You are both such beautiful writers. Love you.