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At the beginning of February the National Association of Free Clinics ran a free clinic in Hartford, and for the entire afternoon, the sense of good will and community was a pleasure to be a part of. I had the opportunity to be a Spanish translator, and although the demand for translators had tapered off by the time I arrived at 2:45, I was able to help a couple of people and eventually switched to accompanying patients through the process regardless of language needs. Because they kept the translators in one area while we waited for patients who needed us, I was able to talk a lot with the other translators and watch the waiting areas. One thing that overwhelmed and impressed me in both my conversations and the interactions between people was the positive attitude and friendliness that marked almost every interaction. So often, we spend a lot of time griping about health care in this country and how unwilling some politicians and people are to fix the system, but at the clinic, everyone was just very excited to come together and help people. Challenges definitely existed in getting people the full care they needed, but overall, doctors, nurses, and volunteers were obviously there to help in any way possible. This sense of good will was reaffirmed when I received, as did all the other volunteers, an email that relayed a message from one of the patients who received care at the clinic. When she arrived at the clinic, doctors realized that this woman was in cardiac distress and rushed her to the hospital. There, she spent a week being treated for hypertensive crisis and congestive heart failure. She called the director of the National Association of Free Clinics when she was released from the hospital to thank her for the care that saved her life. I knew good work had been done when I left the clinic that day, but it was even more inspiring and affirming to hear that the free clinic had a lasting positive effect.
Sabina Klein, CTHPP Fellow