Health care, a few sights, and a little Grand Prix.

So as my 6-month assignment at Urban Ministries of Wake County winds down, I thought I’d share a few sights and sounds from the Raleigh area. But first (since I said I would), a little bit about healthcare.

As I mentioned in prior posts, there are three main arms to the mission of Urban Ministries of Wake County. I previously wrote about hunger and homelessness, and that leaves health care. Urban Ministries offers a free clinic for Wake County residents without insurance who can provide proof of residence and proof of low income (within 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines… for a family of four that means a household income of less than $43,567).

The Open Door Clinic first opened in 1985, and was one of the first free clinics in North Carolina. The clinic offers primary care visits, free prescription medications, lab and radiology services, specialty clinics and referrals to local specialists. There are also a number of education and counseling programs offered. They expect to provide roughly 6,000 medical and diabetes management visits this year. The clinic is enormously dependent upon volunteers: last year volunteers did the equivalent work of 9.4 staff members, which would otherwise be tremendous overhead for an organization of their size. It is also enormously dependent upon donations, in particular donations of medications from pharmaceutical companies (including GSK) that have prescription assistance programs.

I would be massively understating things to say that the healthcare system in the United States is complicated. And you may have heard of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) that is rapidly (and chaotically) approaching, which will have big impacts throughout the system. Add to that a number of recent changes that the state of North Carolina has made, and you end up with a complex and convoluted landscape that cannot be easily summarized in a blog post. As the great philosopher once said…

“Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” – Inigo Montoya

Suffice it to say that “safety net” organizations like Urban Ministries of Wake County will need to constantly adapt, as the safety net has some holes that are closed up, other holes opened wider, and a few new holes being made in the meantime. It is an organization that will have to adjust and tranform, as bickering politicians continue to shift the sands underneath the U.S. healthcare system.

And speaking of politics, that segues into a very brief photo tour of Raleigh…

capitol
The NC State Capitol, built in 1840, is where the Governor’s office is located, and is probably the most well known landmark in Raleigh.
Another view of the Capitol, decked out for the holidays.
Another view of the Capitol, decked out for the holidays.
PAC
Looking down Fayetteville St. to the Performing Arts Center. You might notice the ghost of Christmas present in the foreground. Or maybe that’s a jogger.
The Raleigh skyline. Not the most well known or awe-inspiring skyline. But it’s not a bad place to live.
The Raleigh skyline. Not the most well known or awe-inspiring skyline. But it’s not a bad place to live.
The staff at Urban Ministries, it’s been a pleasure to work with them, they’re a great group of people doing great work to help people in need…
The staff at Urban Ministries, it’s been a pleasure to work with them, they’re a great group of people doing great work to help people in need…

And finally, for those who have stuck it out through the end of this post… well, first of all, thanks for that. You’re pretty awesome, and quite persistent. Anyway, I spend two-ish hours a day commuting back and forth into Raleigh, mostly on heavily trafficked multi-lane highways. There’s a brief video below that shows the favorite part of my drive. (Admittedly, that’s a pretty low bar.) This is the last few miles of my drive into Urban Ministries, at *nearly* actual speed.

This is Wade Avenue, an urban boulevard with a bit of a roller coaster feel. Surprisingly enough, in six months driving it, I only saw one major accident. (Not me.) It feels a little bit like Grand Prix driving to me. But with traffic lights. And oncoming traffic. But perhaps I spent a little too much time during my formative years playing Pole Position. Best viewed with at least a little volume. Unless you sit in open plan, in which case… feel free to CRANK IT UP! 🙂

I know this holiday season I’ll be extra thankful for the fortunate path I’ve had in my life, for a tremendous opportunity to make a difference working with some remarkable people at a local non-profit doing great work, for the love and support of family and friends, and the ongoing support of the team back at GSK (especially Pat!). Happy holidays, and best wishes for the new year!

3 comments

  1. What a great closing blog, Mark – thanks for sharing! I especially loved your Grand Prix video – highly entertaining & creative! Best wishes, Ahsiya

  2. Inigo Montoya – a wise and mustachio’ed man.

    Great post – congratulations on reaching the end of your PULSE assignment. I’m sure you will be missed there.

  3. Wait.. You’re done ? INCONCEIVABLE! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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