Jan. 31 – Feb. 9: The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina

This week, I finished reading the Faces of Poverty in North Carolina by Gene R. Nichol, a well-known UNC professor who has been in the field of healthcare discrimination for most of his career. The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina has been an enlightening read— it’s shed light on a lot of the issues that North Carolinians face in gaining incredibly necessary access to healthcare. While there is a lot of analytical data, I feel that the most impactful and necessary parts of the book were those with first hand accounts of the ways in which people were effected by lack of access to healthcare. I’ve added a couple of really poignant descriptions that Professor Nichol added.

“The statistics of American poverty are straightforward and demoralizing. Almost 13 percent of Americans, over 40 million, fall below the federal poverty threshold… Our poverty is skewed sharply on the basis of race… 22% of African Americans and 19.4% of Hispanics, compared with 9% for whites…”

p. 1

“…small historic, mostly black town in Rowan County, where over 50% of the community lives in poverty… no high school, no library, no commercial district, and no grocery store.”

p. 9

“Tonya Hall, a fifty-five year old mother and grandmother… ‘It was instilled in me at a very young age if you want to eat, you have to work,” she says… But in 2011, she was forced to endure a six hour fusion operation for scoliosis… Losing insurance coverage after the surgery, she had to forgo physical therapy treatments because she couldn’t afford them.”

p. 40

Tonya’s story is one of many. The fact that her right to live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life is limited by this arbitrary idea of insurance is just preposterous to me. It is inherently a human right to gain access to healthcare, but this is obviously something that the United States neither believes, nor supports.

Now that I’ve identified the problem, in upcoming weeks I will be reaching out to medical school directors about ways in which we are solving the issue, as well as reading about replacements for the insurance system in America.

Thank you for tuning in!