By Caleb Huber
The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences here. For more information, visit our program page.
Sandy is a young adolescent female who learned a few weeks ago that she was pregnant. I sat across from her in the exam room at Siloam Health, a clinic for the uninsured and refugee populations of Middle Tennessee. Her hands fidgeted, her anxieties were betrayed in her tense gestures. She had not told anyone yet aside from her fiancée of the coming baby.
Her primary care physician at Siloam had been seeing Sandy for some time, and her visit today was to follow-up with her as she tried to navigate the US health care system. At her young age, she was not familiar with how to set up her first prenatal visit or how to apply for insurance to cover her during her pregnancy.
But greater than all these other uncertainties is the fact that Sandy is also an undocumented immigrant to the USA.
As Sandy poured out her heart to her primary care physician, the question of insurance came up.
“Will they ask me for my citizenship status?” she asked anxiously.
“No”, the doctor replied, “this baby will be born in the USA and will therefore be a citizen”.
A ray of hope swept across Sandy’s face as she imagined, with a little more confidence now, her child’s future.
Siloam Health stands in a unique place in the landscape of the American health system. As a primary care clinic for the uninsured, it aims to share the love of Christ through health care. It does this in a magnificent way as it intervenes on behalf of those who might otherwise be lost in the shuffle of our healthcare system.
Those without health insurance. Those who don’t speak English. Those without citizenship. Those who were prescribed Doxycycline for pneumonia at a local emergency room only to arrive at the pharmacy check-out without enough money to purchase it.
Shouldn’t our healthcare system be emphasizing quality care for these, the ones who need it most?