Cutting It Close

During my time at USC, I have had the pleasure at working at several different hospitals. The one I have spent the most time at was the LAC + USC Medical Center. I used to volunteer there every week in the Emergency Department. Since this LA County public hospital is one of the biggest in the country, employees there saw just about everything. County hospital has to legally accept everyone that walks through the doors, insurance or no insurance, thus leading to a high influx of the homeless population. From my experience there, I learned a whole new side of health care. Growing up never being homeless or not having health insurance, I would have never known what it is like for people who live their entire life being underinsured and underserved. It is absolutely devastating to see and to hear some of these stories those people have. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had there, especially one day in particular…

It was a normal Sunday afternoon. The sun was out and the waiting room was pretty calm. There was only about a 6–8 hour wait to be seen by a physician (which is typical the best it ever is at County). I was summoned to the front desk and was asked to bring a patient back to the ER. There was no sense of urgency in the nursing attendant’s voice, so I just moseyed my way down to the patient. As soon as I turned the corner, I heard this women screaming and then I saw her and realized this women was about to give birth. I rushed her into a nearby wheelchair and hauled her and her almost newborn baby to the back room. When I showed up, the doctors, nurses, techs, and pharmacists were all waiting for me. Then they all picked her up and put her on the bed and about 60 seconds later I saw my first baby boy birth.

Although this was a surreal moment to me, upon thinking of this later I became a little sad. The shocking fact is that this woman felt that she needed to wait until literally the last moment to receive care. All of the times I have heard of women giving birth, they leisurely go to the hospital and get comfy in a room, etc. This woman was clearly in labor for hours and hours before coming to the Emergency Room. Although the healthcare issue for our homeless population cannot be solved overnight, I hope that one day we can say that no women has to wait till right before she gives birth to receive quality care. This has driven me to continue volunteering at hospitals that need it most such LA County Hospital and the VA Medical Center and to also speak out in hopes that one day it will help these people. I strongly urge that for anyone who wants to see another side of the U.S. health care system, volunteering at these hospitals will open your eyes to a whole new perspective.

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