It has been a fantastic week and words and pictures don’t really do the trip justice. I learned so much about the Affordable Care Act (ACA)…in all its 2000 page glory! Beyond that though, the hands on learning experience could not be replicated. Over the week, we visited multiple sites in the Hidalgo and Cameron Counties and conducted 26 interviews with some of the most passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Community health workers are very invested in the members of their “family,” and shared with us touching stories about the people that they have helped over the last few years. Some were so moving, the interviewees were holding back tears and struggling to put into words just how much they cared.
I was struck by how quickly the interviews went by and amazed that, even though I don’t know a word of Spanish, we were able to talk with everyone here. Coming into this project, I had thought that we’d be talking to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, so I was surprised when we were talking to people referred to as Navigators, whose sole jobs were to talk to people and get them enrolled in health insurance plans.
Our week in Texas has been an incredibly enriching academic experience, but of course, we escaped Michigan for the week and we had some sun to show for it! We all visited South Padre Island for an evening, which was a great reprieve from the ice and snow that is home 🙂
As we get ready to board the plane right now, I don’t think I’ll be fully able to appreciate the experience of the last week until I’ve had time for all of it to really, really hit me…which will probably be in the SPH basement when I resume data mining and number crunching in SAS later this week. I’m sad to leave but excited to see how this research can be used to really effect change…and though I’m leaving South Texas now, the experiences here won’t ever leave me.