Last September I had the privilege of being asked to tell the story behind a clinic. Not a small pop-up style clinic but a giant clinic. A clinic that took over an entire sports arena. Imagine an NBA basketball court filled side-to-side and end-to-end with dental chairs, hundreds of them. That’s how giant. Beyond the dentists, there were providers to help with testing, vision care, and myriad medical needs. All of provided for free, to anyone, no questions asked.
As amazing as that was, the real story was about a need so broad that it reaches into every corner of our community and the people and organizations that put aside differences to come together and provide help to the many thousands in our community that need better access to healthcare.
It was a story that challenged my own ideas and understand that I had about what access means, about what being in need means, and about who are the people who are in need. I learned that few are exempt from access issues of some kind. I learned that the healthcare system, while it is slowly changing for the better, is beyond flawed and that it will take herculean effort to make major changes. But I also saw the immediacy of the need, that people can’t wait for those changes to come into being when they have health issues today.
Making Stronger Than Medicine, a documentary about what it took to create the clinic and the impact of that effort, was a profound and moving experience. I saw every kind of person come to the clinic for care. I saw people I knew. And, I saw what is possible when enough people not only recognize a problem in our community but decide to act on it. Even though they knew it wouldn’t solve the problem, they knew that acting now would provide relief to thousands. It also moved the bar forward by shining a light on this complex issue and brought together many important voices in our community and beyond to ask how can I help. That’s how you make a difference.
Please consider volunteering at this year’s clinic, February 13 – 16, it is a powerful and unforgettably positive experience. I hope to see you there.