Occupy Wall Street’s Volunteer Medical Aid

Elaine Hirsch, Kmareka’s West Coast correspondent, sends a post about some of the professionals who volunteer their skills at Occupy Wall Street. Here in Providence the need is clear, and Occupiers with first aid skills have responded and in cooperation with Public Safety have helped people in need get to the Emergency Room. Health security for the 99% would free our workers from scrambling for a job with benefits or being one health emergency away from financial disaster. Small businesses would be the first to benefit, and I know some doctors who would welcome an integrated system that let them do what they went to school for– and I don’t mean billing.

Occupy Wall Street’s Healthcare

A number of sympathetic doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and other healthcare professionals have banded together to volunteer their time, seeking to provide free medical care for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. A number of the healthcare professionals involved in the endeavor identify with an informal group calling itself Doctors for the 99%. These caretakers’ assistance goes beyond merely supporting the Occupy protests, but in its way constitutes its own protest, adding dissatisfaction with the American healthcare system to college and master’s degree debt, bank bailouts, joblessness, and other woes.

Some of the doctors have occupied an abandoned hospital, while elsewhere round-the-clock care is available in a surplus medical tent reminiscent of an old M.A.S.H. Set. Most of the care being offered is relatively rudimentary. There have been reports of nurses stitching wounds and doctors providing over-the-counter medication, but most of the care seems to be basic first aid and preventive treatment.

A major goal seems to have been to limit the spread of contagious disease in the cramped conditions common in the protest camps. To that end, a number of doctors from Columbia Health Center and Doctors for a National Health program recently arrived to offer free flu shots. As winter approaches, another major focus of the medical team has been educating the protesters about warning signs that indicate the beginning stages of hypothermia.

According to Pauly Kostora, a licensed practical nurse from New Mexico, protesters will also be able to find free mental health treatment.

The healthcare system in place among the protesters is limited, and the professionals volunteering their time rely considerably on actual hospitals. No doctors have come forward to acknowledge providing prescriptions, and when protesters arrive with serious injuries, nurses are instructed to call emergency services.

The volunteers are either sympathetic to the movement or have joined its ranks outright. The doctors and nurses report anger over the state of healthcare in the United States, and view the assistance they’re offering to the protesters as a contribution to the fight for universal health care. The doctors and nurses appear to be working day jobs, and finding time to offer aid to the protesters during their off-hours.

Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.