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ADVANCE Voice: NP

NP Joins the National Health Care Debate

Published January 25, 2008 8:29 AM by Jill Rollet
Follow nurse practitioner Lois Wessel's lead and make national policy briefings your second job. Wessel wrote a touching and informative article for Tuesday's Washington Post, explaining her position at a mobile health clinic in Silver Spring, Md., and the barriers to care the U.S. health system throws up before her mostly immigrant patients.

Here's how the article opens:

A 42-year-old political refugee from Sierra Leone, trained as a chemist in France, recently showed up -- desperate -- at the mobile health clinic in Silver Spring where I work as a nurse practitioner. He had lost his health insurance, he explained in fluent English, after his hours had been cut at the university cafeteria where he was working as a cook and dishwasher. By the time I saw him, he had been without his diabetes medication for several months, his blood sugar was dangerously high and he was suffering from kidney damage. I got him back on his drugs, but not before sharing his frustration that his insurer could just drop him.

Stories like this are all too common among the immigrant patients I see at the nonprofit community clinic. All are uninsured. Most have had limited preventive care, and many suffer from chronic diseases including asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.

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