Brookdale students and employees are encouraged to join in a college-wide “intellectual experience” this semester as part of the first ever Global Read, sponsored by the Global Citizenship Project (GCP) and the International Education Center (IEC).
The initiative encourages all Brookdale community members to read Tracy Kidder’s acclaimed nonfiction book Mountains Beyond Mountains, which centers on the humanitarian work of Dr. Paul Farmer. Farmer, an anthropologist and infectious disease doctor, became an international symbol of health care advocacy for his selfless work with poverty-stricken communities in Haiti.
“In the book, Paul Farmer describes health care as a basic human right,” said Brookdale English instructor and GCP member Kelsey Maki. “That idea is central to the debate we are having right now in regards to our own health care system, and how our nation will approach health insurance and other programs in the years ahead. It’s a very timely issue, with very big ramifications, and we hope to engage students in a college-wide wide conversation about what health care is, and what it should be.”
Faculty from each Academic Institute are using all or part of the book as part of their Spring Term courses, and all Brookdale students are invited to attend a series of free Global Read events throughout the semester. To see a full listing of ‘Global Read’ events, click here.
The initiative kicked off on Jan. 26 with a guest lecture by certified health care application instructors Digna Diaz and Henose Valein, who help local residents and families access affordable health care through the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey.
The presentation, sponsored by the Dreamers+ club, the GCP and the IEC, focused on the current state of U.S. health care and its impact on immigrant communities.
Diaz and Valein described the various kinds of low- and no-cost health care offered to local families and individuals in need, including free screenings, treatment options and even transportation to medical facilities.
The speakers also gave a guided tour of the HealthCare.gov website and showed students how to sign up for a federally subsidized health insurance plan, while explaining the differences between premiums, deductibles, co-pays, tax reimbursements and other important terms.
While the website, like the 2013 Affordable Care Act (ACA) that authorized it, may soon be a thing of the past, Diaz said she hopes the millions of Americans who rely on subsidized insurance will not be overlooked under a new federal administration.
“There are more people accessing health care now,” she said. “We are seeing an abundance of people visiting our health centers because they didn’t have insurance before. Which makes you think, because all of these people were walking around sick before.
“There could be changes [to the ACA],” she added. “Some groups are certainly paying very high rates for health insurance…But if it were to go away completely it would be very sad. A lot of people, a lot of children, a lot of single adults with low incomes, would no longer qualify. Thirty million people could once again be uninsured.”
The program was well received by the students and club members in attendance, including Dreamers+ club president Monica Urena and vice president Daysy Arevalo. Both Urena and Arevalo said health care is a major concern for Hispanic individuals and families in Monmouth County.
“Members of our community are limited in what they can do and where they can go for care,” said Urena. “This doesn’t just affect us personally; it affects our friends, family, parents and children. A lot of times people will just avoid going to the doctor because they know they can’t afford it. So we want to help raise awareness of the resources that are available. We want people to know that help is out there.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Dreamers+ advisor and Brookdale history instructor Ashley Zampogna-Krug.
“I always assumed that health care in the U.S. is awesome, and in many ways it is. But when you take a global perspective you realize that many countries are doing things better than us,” said Zampogna-Krug, also a member of the GCP. “You realize that in areas like maternal health, for example, the U.S. is not at the top. It’s important to recognize the problems we have, whether that is access or quality of health care, in order to begin addressing it. It’s also important to shine a light on those people and those regions that don’t have access to quality health care.”
To learn more about the Global Read, click here.
Check out more photos of Digna Diaz’s presentation here.