With Congress’ vote in favor of the American Health Care Act in May 2017, Americans coast to coast reeled about the possible loss of affordable health care insurance, which was already inaccessible to many before its predecessor, Obamacare. Dozens of pre-existing conditions would block a formidable number of citizens from attainable treatment, surely resulting in their deaths. To millions of Americans, the healthy, the infirmed, and the surviving, it was like watching their own annihilation unfold before their eyes right on the Capitol floor knowing that, without affordable healthcare, they would die.
Around the world, universal healthcare is a right, but not in the United States. In times of distress, American communities have banded together to create their own neighborhood wellness centers when resources were intentionally denied. If in the future, should quality treatment become scarce, it may be time for communities to rally once again to provide solutions when their government refuses. Establishments like LSA Family Health Center in East Harlem already does exactly this.
Founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, for over 50 years, social workers, health professionals, advocates and volunteers have been the engine that this community health center has run on, providing food, clothing, healthcare and housing assistance to lower-income citizens. From maternity nursing programs, home health visits, nutrition and fitness courses, and mental health counseling, the center provides support for strengthening individuals and families. Serving a wide variety of patrons in multiple languages, LSA lends itself to being a family-like support system that cares for those ignored by a system that caters to the richest and most powerful.
On- and offline communities like Healtheo360 offer a space of physical and emotional healing. Because living with health difficulties is often a source of shame that many may hesitate in talking about, the organization provides a place where patients and their support systems can open up about their ailments, putting a face to disease and, ultimately, recovery. Through video testimonials, blogs and online networks, this community amplifies brave voices who express their conditions are not instant death sentences, and that there is hope ahead. There is no balm for anxiety over illness like unconditional support.
Physical, medical and emotional support are all part of wellness. We soon may no longer have the strength of the American health care system to rely on, which is why we must turn to our neighbors and offer care and a shoulder to lean on.
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