:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Friday, June 20, 2003  

THE MOST AMAZING TIME, and a "Health Justice Gathering"

I'm finishing up my first month in HEAVEN right now. I've taken a year off and am serving as the Jack Rutledge Fellow at the American Medical Student Association (www.amsa.org) national office right outside of Washington, DC. I've been having a BLAST (the previous JRF, Minesh Shah, called this "the best job in the country" -- I'd have to agree) and I've been COMPLETELY reenergized in just one month!

So anyway, I'm typing from Orlando, Florida, where I will be part of a panel tomorrow on "legislative issues facing medical students and physicians" at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin conference. And then the day after tomorrow, i'll be flying out to the Midwest Academy week-long training in Redwood City, California -- an intense and absolutely amazing weeklong training on "Organizing for Social Change". Can't wait! And last week we had an Action Committees and Board of Trustees meeting at the AMSA national office, and it was so much fun to hang out with 60 inspirational medical student activists and leaders, and to share my goals with them and hear theirs and how we can work together. I've also been to some interesting meetings on Capitol Hill, and to a REALLY exciting Health Justice Gathering in New Mexico, which I'll detail:

Two weeks ago, I flew out to Albuquerque, NM for a Health Justice Gathering organized by a few people including Andru Ziwasimon, a doctor completing his fellowship in Rural Health at Univ of New Mexico. The day I arrived, there was a community meeting organized, in which patients actually stood up in front of a microphone and shared their stories about how they have been affected by not having health insurance. They told horrifying stories about receiving expensive hospital bills (one woman had to pay $30,000 after having an emergency cesarian section), and about not having the choice to pay in monthly installments but having to come up with 50% of their money up front and the other 50% a little later (one woman had to sell her house in order to pay the bill). There were also tragic stories of not having translation services and not being able to communicate with doctors and nurses. It was SO absolutely powerful to see patients sharing their stories, and the CEO and the Public Relations director from the hospital were there too, so hopefully some positive changes will come out of this. I like the concept involved in this -- empowering patients themselves -- and helping them convey messages effectively, instead of doctors and other educated activists always speaking up for them. It's exciting. I'll add more in the near future from this really amazing and diverse group of activists, the Community Coalition for Health Access based in Albuquerque, NM.

The next day 24 of us (medical students, residents, attendings, others) drove to the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, where some amazing cabin-owners allowed us to use a few of their cabins for free! We went hiking and chillin' in the hot springs nearby (and I think I got altitude sickness). In two days we discussed the health effects of globalization (thanks to John and Lucy, two of the most inspirational and fun doctors i've met yet) and the future of the universal health care movement. I also heard tons of interesting stories about health justice issues in Latin America, from Lanny Smith, founder of Dcotrs for Global Health (by the way, the DGH annual meeting is in Berkeley California at the end of July!) It was all in all supercool, and i'll be posting more about these movers and shakers, and about our "what to do now" work. That's it for now, more exciting news and opinions shortly!

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/20/2003 07:19:00 PM | |


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