A generous reflection

Published 7:42 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

In all the talk during the past few years about the failures of the American healthcare system, at least one important thing has been overlooked: American doctors and other healthcare providers are some of the most generous in the world.

Whether through organizations like the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders or any number of other groups of medical professionals offering philanthropic aid, American health care providers are ever on the alert for opportunities to help people in need. When an earthquake shattered the island nation of Haiti, for example, American doctors and nurses rushed to the scene to provide their expertise in treating the many orthopedic injuries that resulted.

Closer to home, through faith-based and other community-service organizations, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals help their neighbors with many of the same problems.

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The Western Tidewater Free Clinic got its start largely because of that kind of spirit of giving. And through the four years that the facility has been in existence, those health care professionals have provided an increasing level of care to an increasing number of clients.

What started with a couple of hundred people from Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton receiving basic medical services and counseling for chronic conditions has grown to a patient base of 1,500 people receiving everything from checkups to dental care. And with the recent addition of a pharmacy on the premises, the clinic has become even more valuable to the community it serves.

And it all starts with the generosity of volunteer doctors, nurses, administrators and staff — people who want to make a difference for friends and neighbors who otherwise would be unable to take care of their own health issues.

There’s plenty of room for debate about the future of health care in America. One thing’s for sure, though. Americans will always be a generous people, and there’s no better reflection of that generosity than the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.