Twelve SUNY Delhi nursing students and two nursing faculty members volunteered their time and skills this fall to help hundreds of underserved and uninsured individuals get the healthcare they need. The group traveled to Greenwich, NY, to spend two days working for Remote Area Medical (RAM), a nonprofit organization that provides free pop-up clinics to deliver dental, vision, and medical services.
Senior nursing student Becky Velez was among the SUNY Delhi nursing students who volunteered for RAM. Having been in healthcare for over eight years serving the Long Island and city communities, she wanted to understand the healthcare needs of rural communities in New York State.
“I was shocked to see how many people in rural communities don’t have access to healthcare,” she says. “Many of these patients drove miles from their homes to come to RAM. Some of them slept overnight in the parking lot to be seen the next day and to take advantage of all of the medical services in one day. Many were thirsty and hungry, but the sacrifice was worth it for them to obtain healthcare access.”
One of the most rewarding moments of the experience for Becky was being able to help the Spanish-speaking families that visited the RAM clinic.
“Language can be a huge barrier between a patient and a healthcare provider. Being a native Spanish speaker, I was able to translate for Spanish-speaking families and help them communicate effectively with doctors and other healthcare professionals. It made me realize how important and valuable it is to speak two languages in order to provide accurate information and get quality healthcare.”
Overall, Becky says the experience made her see life from a different perspective and appreciate how fortunate she is. Though commuting from Long Island to go to school in Delhi is challenging, she is grateful for a car that works, a roof over her head, and food to eat.