Public health is a field composed of many overlapping disciples, all related towards reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes in a population. This may sound very broad, but that is because public health can encompass many different things and a public health based mission can look quite different from one organization to the next. My role in National Health Corps is to serve as the Outreach Coordinator and Community Partner Program Associate at Global Links, an organization based out of Pittsburgh that distributes medical supplies and equipment to organizations and clinics with health-based missions. I identify “safety net organizations”, a term used to describe organizations that serve the uninsured and underinsured by providing them with access to care or desperately needed services, and help provide these organizations with the supplies they need to continue their mission.
Some of these organizations provide primary medical care to those who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. Others provide shelter, food, or basic necessities such as feminine hygiene products to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Still others provide education and the tools to make healthier life choices, whether that be through a service such as a smoking cessation program or through providing condoms and STD testing in the efforts to promote safer sexual practices. Some of these organizations serve children exclusively, others only work with women, and some deal with all who come to them. Some of these organizations are large, and well-staffed while others are smaller and volunteer-run. These organizations all look vastly different from one another but they all share two things in common: their mission to help the un/underinsured, and their importance to the community they serve.
Many safety net organizations are overrun and underfunded. The need for the services these organizations offer is invaluable, and funding often can’t begin to cover the cost of all these organizations do. I have been lucky enough through my time in HealthCorps to witness how these organizations work with one another and work within the city structure to fill gaps in care and services. Despite their different specific mission statements or varying services, all of these organizations are related and often serve the same clientele. By helping to provide these organizations with basic medical supplies, Global Links ensures these organizations not only stay in operation, but that they can see more clients or even expand the services they are able to offer.