Bethel Lutheran Free Medical Clinic
This past summer I worked in a free medical clinic in Biloxi, Mississippi. The free clinic was set up two years ago in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Bethel Lutheran Church opened the medical clinic at first to offer temporary services for the community, yet over time it transformed into a permanent medical facility that the people on the coast rely upon. The clinic offered free medical treatment for people without insurance and low-income families. The clinic was run entirely by volunteer nurses and doctors. Without volunteers clinics down on the coast would not exist.
While I was down in Biloxi I had the opportunity to learn how to run a medical clinic. For most of my time I triaged the patients who came in each day. Triage entails taking the patients' weight, height, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and respiration. In addition, I found out the chief reason for the patient's current visit and then relayed that information to the doctor on staff. I also helped in the pharmacy, shadowed procedures done by the doctors, and worked at the registration table. I used different skills for every job and each job taught me something different about myself. Although each of these jobs were rewarding, my favorite part of working in the clinic was assisting the case worker/social worker.
Working as the caseworker was frustrating because I wanted to give money to each person who needed financial assistance; unfortunately I didn't have the funds to do this. Listening to the countless stories that these people told, and watching as they stood strong in the midst of their situations made me a stronger person. To help the people, I offered advice and informed them about resources around the area; in return, each person gave me hope, courage, and strength. The thing I learned most while listening to each person is that God is alive and working even in the darkest points of our lives. What those people down on the coast need are people to listen and more importantly people to bring them hope.
The most rewarding part of my experience in Biloxi was seeing the transformation of the patients as they walked in and left. Most of the patients who walked in were distraught, yet as they left you could see the difference that Bethel made. Once distraught, they left with a smile on their face. Thanks to the CVR I had the chance to find who I am as a person and what I want to do in this world. In Biloxi I found what I am passionate for, and how I can bring my skills in the medical field to practice all over the world. Overall, my experience down in Biloxi erased my doubts about whether or not to become a doctor and strengthened my decision to join the Peace Corps after I finish my time at Augustana.