Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mission 2011

As a young, public health activist and someone who has witnessed what medical debt can do to a family, I dream of a day when access to healthcare in America becomes a right rather than a privilege. On May 25, Palmetto Health invited representatives from community organizations in the Midlands to their Auditorium to witness the laying of the foundation for what will surely be a historic event. After welcoming the wide-eyed, eager group, Vince Ford, Senior Vice President for Community Services, pressed play on a video that warmed my soul and rebuilt my hope that equality in healthcare is on its way.

My eyes filled with tears when I heard Linda say “I feel like a throwaway” as she stood with her walker in line to receive medical care at SC Mission 2010 held in Greenville last year. Watching the testimonies from patients at Mission 2010 put a face on the uninsured and underserved in our community. These people are our neighbors, our family, and our friends who desperately need our help.

On August 5 and 6, medical, dental and vision care will be provided free of charge to any and all Midlands adults who are without access to affordable care. Whether you’re uninsured, underinsured, or just plain underserved - nurses, doctors, optometrists, hygienists and dentists will be on site to provide care. No identification or proof of a lack of insurance is required. The event will begin bright and early each morning at 6:00am and end at 10:00pm on Friday and 4:00pm on Saturday. Dental services will be provided for 34 hours straight starting Friday at 6:00am.

Please volunteer to assist with the SC Mission 2011 and witness our community mobilizing to bring healthcare to all residents.  Need more of a reason to volunteer?  Then listen to my colleague Meredith Talford who participated in Mission 2010.
Whenever the topic of health care comes up I hold my breath because you never know what is going be said. We get into heated arguments about what is best for the future of our country. I watch. I listen. I think. I think about the future, but I also think about the present. I think of people who are in pain now. Last year I volunteered with Mission 2010 in Greenville. I met a lady who left work early, packed a cooler and slept outside overnight hoping to have an infected tooth removed. It had been like that for months, but she didn’t have the resources to get treated. Afterwards, she kept mumbling, “Thank ya’ll for doing this.” All I did was distribute tickets, but it reminded me that every small part contributes to the greater good. So as I patiently wait for the health care of the future, I’ll follow the advice of Mother Teresa and “Not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
Planning to come as a patient? Here are some tips:
• Wear cool clothing and sunscreen and bring a personal, hand-held fan if possible (much of the line to services will be outdoors and we know South Carolina heat in August can be unforgiving!).
• Wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks and a portable chair (the wait has the potential to be several hours).

By: Jordan Slice, Research and Evaluation Assistant at the SC Campaign

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