Saturday, May 4, 2013

These people

"These people are here because they don't have health insurance..."

In November, 2011, I started volunteering at the Bethesda Health Clinic and I was thrilled about it. On Saturdays, the regular staff take off while volunteers (doctors, dentists, nurses, whoever) provide medical care to patients who can't see the doctors and dentists during the week and I found out that my church volunteered sometimes so I signed up to go whenever it was our turn.

The clinic provides affordable medical care to people who work at least 20 hours a week but have no health insurance and only make a certain amount of money. Their co-pay to see the doctor depends on how much they make and it ranges from just $0-25 so to me "these people", bless their hearts, were poor people who needed help and I was happy to give it. Only I didn't realize I thought of them in a condescending manner and little did I know that I had just dug a nice little pit for myself.
One of the kids I watched in the clinic drew this for me
On the table
We kinda got in trouble for it!

In May, 2012, I had my little stint in the ER ( long story ) and when I was getting discharged, the doctor told me to see my regular doctor for follow up and labs. The problem with that was that I didn't have a doctor. I self medicated whenever I got ill, drank gallons of orange juice, slept in, prayed and got better. The proud fool that I am, I started talking to health insurance companies to see if I could buy health insurance but alas, even after monthly payments, I would have to spend $3-5,000 before the insurance picks up the rest of the bill. I don't get benefits at work because I am only full time temp because I go to school full time and can't commit to permanently being the head of a class (another long story).

Anyway, I was talking about my dilemma to my flat-mate when she carelessly went "How about Bethesda? You volunteer there, don't you? You work over 20 hours, you don't have health insurance and it's not like you make 50 bucks an hour". Jah-Jehova-Jireh! 3 days later, I was in the reception hall, waiting to get registered and thinking to myself "na me be dis?". I felt the need to convince everyone who smiled at me that I wasn't poor, I wasn't one of these people, I only came here because I had an emergency. I wasn't poor!

A couple of months later, it looked like I had cancer and this clinic paid for my biopsy and doctor's fee and all I had to churn out was $65.

Today, I volunteered again (I never stopped) but this time it was at the front desk with the receptionist. She is a sweet, old lady who volunteers there even during the week and I heard her refer to the patients once or twice as "these people". It just brought a tear to my eye as I smiled.

I can get health insurance from school for just $10/month
I can ask to become the next head of class at work
Heck, I can even get another job that offers me benefits straight up
But no, I am one of these people
These people keep me humble
These people bless me even when I think I am blessing them
I am these people
I am poor
And it is ok
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.