How my community service experience relates future PAs.

Thursday morning I was up by seven am to beat traffic and arrive at St. Vincents Hospital by nine am. When I arrived to the warehouse I was unaware of where to go, who to meet, or what to do- th eonly thing I was aware of was that I was suppose to drive around and hand out food. My purpose behind the trip was to volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program through St. Vincent’s program and at th time it was just a class requirement but it ended up showing me a different side of healthcare that I have only heard about.Within that hour I had met my team which comprised of myself and two older women. One of the women was an employee who worked for the programs for 30 years, the other woman was a colunteer who also participates mutliple times a week for meals on wheels. Once the truck was loaded with our meal, we began our route!

We arrive to our fist stop where one of the women instructed that I pack “ one cold pack, one hot pack, a juice and a milk.” While I was packing she went on to explain who the client was and a little bit about the neighborhood, she went on and explained how this neighbourhood was populated with doctors offices and healtcare facilities since the 50s but because of the inflation the offices all moved away. She explained that the old patients still lived on this street and we mostly encounter older people. She handed me the keys to the clients home and reassured me that the individual was very nice as I was on my way to the client’s front door. I knocked on the door and with a pleasant tone “Meals on Wheels,” as I waited I could hear the delay of the home owner coming to the door and the struggle to unlock the door. Once the door opened I found myself looking at an older woman with and oxygen tank very greatful for the delivery, she had asked that I come in and put the meal on the counter since it seemed like she used all her might to hold herself up. I wish the woman to have a nice day and continued back to the car.

Many more similar encounters occured as we continued on our route, nearly every client was elderly and some were disabled. Each meal told me a little bit bout the individual before I could meet them. Some meals subsitiuted pie for fruit for those who can’t indudged in sweets, Some didn’t require a milk because of their lactose intolerance, and some were labeled renal for the diabetic patients they deliver to. One individual in particular require both a renal hot meal and a renal cold meal and the driver had notified me that there were some instances when the delivery was sent to his home and they had discovered him collapsed on the floor and had him sent to the hospital. She went on to continue that it’s not atypical to come across these sitations since majority of the clients are elderly and don’t live with anyone. They rarely have people come and check up on them and majority of their time is spent alone at home. These indivudals spend their time alone who crave care and attention from individuals but are often left alone and forgotten about.

The elderly community is almost a taboo topic that individuals in health care don’t wish to speak about about. It’s programs like Meals on Wheel that acknowldge the elderly and do somethign to change this. Health care professionals need to begin to keep these individuals in mind since the baby boomer generation is aging. More clinics need to open up in these neighborhoods or allow programs to make healthcare ot them more accessible. As a pre-pa student I wishe dto focus my time on primary and general care for those in need. I finally got a taste of the types of patients I would come across, which mainly would be elderly or diabetic. These individuals rely on the care from a general practitioner, but enough need to be available and ready to take care of them. I thank my experience through meals on wheels greatly for giving me that perspective of la, individuals, and healthcare that I don’t get in my Burbank/USC bubble.

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