So many faces…so many people in need…I was completely overwhelmed. It was 5am and as I pulled into the Charleston Coliseum parking lot, it was not immediately noticeable if there was a sizable turnout for the SCMission2103 Lowcountry Free Clinic.
As I parked, pulled my gear together and made my way to the coliseum…the line appeared. The line wrapped around the coliseum, people waiting in-line all night for a chance to receive care.
I met Bill Plank (pictured directly above), and he drove from Anderson to Charleston to see a doctor. Anderson is my home town, like him, I drove 3.5 hours to Charleston. Yet, he drove the night before, spent the night in the car so that he could be close to the front of the line. His goal: to be seen by a physician as soon as possible. I was thankful he spent a few minutes with me to share his story.
The photos in the slideshow at the top of this page are a part of a photo essay I captured on Friday. I knew I could spend time capturing stories from individuals and volunteers…most importantly, I wanted to capture the faces or the uninsured. I wanted to capture their expressions, their context, their story.
These are the faces of the uninsured, right here in South Carolina. They are a part of the 250 thousand uninsured individuals that could benefit from access to quality medical care. They look like you and I, they have families, bills to pay, children to feed…they are human. These are their faces.
So here is a little information about SC Mission 2013 Lowcountry. South Carolina Hospital Association and Access Health SC partnered with many community organizations in Charleston in an effort to organize and execute a two day free clinic for those in need. From free medical, dental, and vision care…hundreds and hundreds of people waited to be seen this Friday morning.
Meet Dot…she is amazing and has a powerful story to tell. Many people camp out all night for iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets. She camped out all night to be the first in-line to receive free medical care. Why? She needed it and was willing to just about anything for the opportunity. To me…that is about as entrepreneurial as it gets!
There were more than 1,300 patient interactions at the SC Mission 2013 this past Friday and Saturday in Columbia, SC at the State Fairgrounds.
Patients received healthcare, eye care, prescriptions and women’s care, including pap smears and mammograms.
The SC Mission aims to meet the needs of residents who are underserved an uninsured. There were about 1,000 clinical and non-clinical volunteers including about 500 healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and optometrists.
These individuals, those 1300 people that came through the doors have passion. Their story surrounds us here in South Carolina with over 250,000 people who are uninsured.
Many times we have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Or we are not motivated to get the day started. Sometimes it is hard to make that first step on a project or we have been procrastinating with that todo list.
I took note this past Friday. People like Dot and the 1300 individuals that waited inline to receive medical care. Many of them made sure they were first in line, waiting all night.
Passion…very entrepreneurial to me!
Access to quality health care here in South Carolina has consumed the public conversation over the last few years. From the Affordable Care Act to hospitals seeking to find new and innovative ways to deal with the growing needs of the uninsured…we are surrounded by the groundswell of health care discourse.
For the past few years, I have been working with the South Carolina Hospital Association to find and tell the stories of the uninsured. Initiatives like AccessHealth SC are special, focusing on those uninsured individuals to not only provide access to quality health care but also a continuum of care.
Over the last 5 months, we have been capturing stories of the uninsured across South Carolina. We have also been working with AccessHealth SC providers and administrators explaining how this healthy initiative can be a model for health care reform.
Purpose of the Video Project (from AccessHealth SC):
“The motivation for capturing AccessHealth SC client and provider stories was two-fold. The primary purpose of the video was to communicate what exactly we are doing through AccessHealth. The idea of collaborative networks of care for the uninsured and underinsured is a bit cumbersome; it doesn’t slip neatly into conversations or presentations and the evidence-based, logical model can get lost on people. This project allowed us to really unpack what it is our networks do and the good sense that they make. A model of providing medical care that addresses social needs makes sense, but when you package it up in a few words with little explanation-lights go out.”
“The project also allowed us to highlight the human impact of our work, the individuals who are using medical services more appropriately, who are better able to manage their chronic diseases, and who are living healthier lives. Even more than putting a face to an outcome, it provided our clients an avenue to share their stories and their hope restored; as cliché as it sounds, this video was an opportunity for them to be heard. As we work to promote dignity and respect in the services our networks connect to, this was vital.”
As we were developing the story line (along with crafting the script), we began having this conversation whether to include statistics and numerical information explaining the economic impact of the program. In the world of video production, many times it is hard to visually showcase information in a compelling manor.
We used graphic animation to bring the numbers to life. You will notice the following video is a smaller section of the video above. We felt this could stand alone as a simple explanation of the AccessHealth SC model and the value it brings to the State of South Carolina.
Purpose of this Information Video (from AccessHealth SC):
“Communicating the economic impact our of our work was important to us because of the stakeholders we are/were hoping to engage. Most often, the individuals within organizations in communities that have the push or say to actually catalyze change speak in numbers and outcomes. Not only was this speaking their language-but drawing their attention to significant results.”
These videos have been launched online and for internal presentational purposes. AccessHealth SC will use these videos to share the visual context of their mission as they present to stakeholders, hospitals, community groups, legislators, and other individuals interested in building a healthier South Carolina.
These videos will also live on the AccessHealth SC section of the SCHA.org website. Our goal, to educate and advocate to those searching for information concerning programs like AccessHealth SC. We want to be a part of the digital paradigm as people search for content related to health in South Carolina.
Last Thursday was one of those days that once again, I was touched.
If you look at this face above, this little girl. I am not sure her name…we never met formally. Thursday, I was working on a project…telling the story of “The Welcome Table”. This is a program put together by the Andrews United Methodist Church in Andrews, NC. Each Thursday, Andrews UMC partners with other churches to provide a meal to the community. From 5 to 6pm every Thursday, anyone from the community can come to have a meal, free of charge.
As leaders from Andrews UMC told me, unemployment in this rural area of Western North Carolina is high. Many of the manufacturing companies and other large businesses either closed or moved out of town. Many families left to figure out what next. The project was to document the day, find the story, and tell the mission of the Rural Church Initiative for the Duke Divinity School. I literally had one hour to capture the story, find the right people, interview them, and capture the essence of this day for others to see.
I was working the room, trying to capture the moments from a far with my video camera and digital camera…I began to gain the trust of those who were there for diner or maybe some fellowship. The pastor says that between 50 and 100 people from the community come to the Welcome Table on Thursdays. They come for many reasons, whether they do not want to eat supper alone, they have friends who attend, or they need a hot meal. Whatever the reason, Andrews UMC wants to provide the opportunity for the community to share with one another.
Some of the people thought I was a journalist with my big cameras. They have experience with “these types.” You see, I used to be one of “those” people. I have been to Andrews twice before. Once in 1998 when they thought that Eric Robert Rudolf had appeared in Andrews. I was there working, with my big cameras, trying to find a story. Then again in 2006 when they actually caught Eric Robert Rudolf. I was there covering that story…once again coming to this town in search of the big story.
On Thursday, As I made small talk with many of the volunteers, they asked me where I was from…I shared with them that I was from South Carolina. I also shared with them that I had been here before…twice. They knew it was for the reasons I just described…and they were glad I was here capturing a great story.
But I was struck…by the face of this little girl. As I sat across the room, capturing her face as she was eating her watermelon…I was struck, humbled, embarrassed, and scared. I am not sure why this little girl and her family were here today. I could only speculate that her little tummy was hungry. Here I am, I have had my share of meals. I almost felt a sense of sadness and doubt coming across her face.
She has no stake in this game. She has no fight in this political madness. She is just eating a meal. I thought about all the many children across our America…hungry, mothers and fathers unemployed, no insurance, no healthcare…who are we? Who are we to squabble about numbers, political discourse that leads to nothing but chest pounding resolve…this little girl. She is our future…
Andrews UMC has a big heart. They are reaching out to this community with one mission, to give. This Thursday…they are providing a good meal to close to 75 people; young, old, black, white, males, females, believers, and non-believers. They believe in their community.
This little face struck me and made me think all the way home. Think about my little girl, Rose Frances who will be here in September.