April 21 – An Enterprising Day in Appalachia!

Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”

volunteer in West Virginia

The Monroe College team ready for action in Fayette County!

Getting down and dirty. The mission begins, everyone is pumped and ready to go. Dr. Kostroff delivering instructions and taking names. We then met Vicky, the construction leader, introduced us to the residents. The residents told their stories of struggle with education, struggles with health and their accomplishments. Katherine, a resident, then shared her story, the most touching of all of how black lung took her husband’s life and how the insurance companies are doing all in their power to mask the severity of the disease. Her story served as a primary reason of why public health is so important.

The medical assistance performed the CPR training. The participants were enthusiastic, involved, and focused. The volunteers were in the thick of the action with getting on their knees for demonstrations and walking around, lending a hand with assisting in the CPR techniques. The greatest gift was the certification given to the resident at the end of the class. The Masters Public Health students went over to the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) after school program and educated 6-14 year old children on nutrition and tobacco. It was a tough crowd but the mission was accomplished and the experience was amazing.

A few of us were able to visit the Black Lung Clinic. It was amazing. To be able to hear from people that have been diagnosed with black lung and hear firsthand what they go through. One person said it was like breathing through a straw. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories about their fight for compensation. We were able to meet with the local Black Lung Association President, who was there for his rehab session. I asked if the rehab helped and everyone said yes. There was a man that had 30% lung capacity but was stable. What amazes me is the lack of coverage there is nationally as well as the lack of funding available to people and this disease.

In the morning we taught CPR to the staff of SALS. Their enthusiasm to learn was really impressive. They were willing and able to learn and asked great questions. After the three hour course, each student left with a CPR certification that I valid for two years. Many stated how this will improve their chances of applying for jobs in the future.

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