When I began to reflect on my service year thus far, I realized that my fondest memories revolve around the people I have interacted with. The members of the cohort, the staff and volunteers at my host site, and the patients have all made a huge impact on me and my service term. They have wedged their way into my heart, and I have grown to admire every one of them. The members of the Pittsburgh cohort all have unique backgrounds and stories about how they ended up applying and joining the Health Corps. During our virtual training days and other meetings, I’ve had a deeper look into who they are and their interests. I love hearing members’ experiences and opinions on topics such as social determinants of health, ableism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more. Listening to them discuss these topics has introduced thoughts that I would not have otherwise realized. It has also restored some hope for the future of healthcare.
The staff and volunteers at my host site, The Birmingham Free Clinic, are proficient, selfless, and dedicated to providing affordable healthcare to all. They are determined to decrease the gaps and disparities in healthcare as well as propagate that mentality to their younger protégés. I am so thankful to be mentored by those with that passion for bettering the field of healthcare.
Perhaps the most humbling experience of all is the opportunity to meet the patients who come through the clinic. They come to the clinic from all walks of life and all have special stories. A patient that comes to mind is a 90-year-old that comes to the clinic often. They take the bus to the clinic all on their own despite having trouble getting around. They sit in the same chair every visit and tell us stories of their family, their immigration to America, and their business once coming to the states. They rely on Birmingham for not only healthcare, but for food, support, resources, and a listening ear. They always brighten our day at the clinic and leave with spreading blessings to the staff and even other patients. They are one of hundreds who come to Birmingham with a story to share and a gracious heart. Interacting with all of the patients at Birmingham has broadened my horizons and respect for others and their cultures. They have shown me the importance of gratitude, vulnerability, and trust in healthcare and in humanity. My term of service with Birmingham has forever changed my perspectives and how taking a step back to hear others is absolutely substantial in life.
This post was written by Miranda Farley.
Miranda serves at Birmingham Free Clinic as a Patient Navigator.