National Health Corps Pittsburgh Blog

"As an investigator I have asked bridesmaids for information about their wedding party, had grandparents give me the phones numbers of their grandchildren and told college students they can’t go home for Thanksgiving. These conversations are difficult for me, and I can’t imagine how hard they are for the person on the other end of the line. It would be strange enough to ask a close friend for the names and phone numbers of everyone they interacted with last week, but it becomes even more uncomfortable when talking to a stranger, from a phone number with no caller ID, in the context of a global pandemic where some people are tired of COVID precautions, and when no one wants to be the reason their friends have to quarantine for two weeks."
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"With recent news of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many other innocent black lives lost to racism, systemic inequities, and police brutality, it is now more important than ever to practice anti-racism. Simply being “not racist” is not enough. White people have benefitted from the systemic inequities and racism that is the foundation of the United States i.e. White Privilege (Collins, 2018)."
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"This is a short example of learning from the bottom up about the systemic inequalities which exist in our healthcare system. It takes much longer than an hour to build a relationship with a patient who has a barrier built on a long history of macro and microaggressions which led to this point. Being an NHC member gives you privileges not available to clinicians with even the purest of motives, such as spending long amounts of time with patients."
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"You see, when public health is working you don’t actually see it, in my opinion, making it hard for people to pay close attention. Today, everyone around the world can see public health. During this pandemic, we have learned terms “social distancing” and “flatten the curve”—part of the public health magic."
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"By staying inside, I’m limiting the contact they have with others and lower their risk of getting sick. By staying inside, I’m able to talk to patients on the phone to ease their frustrations and anxieties surrounding the whole situation. By staying inside, I’m keeping myself safe so that I can continue to serve my patients."
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"However, you don’t need to go to the internet to see the positivity and support. Here in Pittsburgh, numerous organizations and businesses are attempting to alleviate the great strain that this pandemic is putting on many of our neighbors."
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"To me, Paige is a reminder of many things: that the barriers to good health that individuals face are real and damaging and constantly reinforced by society and those in power, that organizations like Birmingham, and the rest of the NHC host sites, although they are underfunded and understaffed, can provide people with small but effective ways to overcome these barriers, and that resilience, kindness, and optimism, although they may be at times hard to find, are what we need most."
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"A lot of my time this service year has been spent thinking about questions like these. For instance, partaking in this AmeriCorps service year is an experience that lends itself only to candidates who are privileged enough to either have the savings or help to live on a governmental stipend. My fellow members and I talked briefly about this during our training, but this is something I’ve grappled with since."
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