When you’re walking through Central Park, an average of one in ten people that you pass does not have health insurance… but you’d never be able to tell who. It could be your friend whose self-employed, or your neighbor whose job doesn’t offer them coverage, or a family member, or anyone else you meet.
The CDC estimated that there were around 28.2 million Americans in 2016* who rely on the national network of Free Clinics and Community Health Centers for their healthcare. Especially for access to specialist doctors like ophthalmologists and dermatologists.
In 2015, The Vaseline® Healing Project, in partnership with Direct Relief, created a pilot program to help distribute key products to Free Clinics and Community Health Centers across America in all 50 states, filling a need for better access to skin care products that would otherwise not be readily available. The Skin Care Stations are comprised of some of the most loved Vaseline® products such as Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly, a product that many patients may not have access to outside of their clinic or community health center.
Although this is only a start, by providing products via The Skin Care Stations, The Vaseline® Healing Project is proud to help support dermatologists and their patients.
The Stations are distributed twice a year with additional products for refills, some clinics have asked if this could be increased to quarterly, as products are so in demand that their supplies are depleted within the first month.
A short stroll West of Central Park is the Ryan Center - one of around 1,500 Community Health Centers (across all 50 US states) that received free Vaseline® Skin Care Stations via The Vaseline® Healing Project.
When we visited the Ryan Center in 2016, we were treated to the same combination of warm welcomes and thoughtful consideration that greets everyone who walks in. We met managers, support staff, and nurses and doctors who were all incredibly giving of their time, despite their busy schedules.
We also met the center’s resident dermatologist, who has been volunteering one day a week at the clinic for the past 16 years. Community Health Centers across the country rely on the dedication and commitment of all their staff, as well as support and donations from a wider network of organizations pitching in to help.
Working for a Community Health Center can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. We asked one of the nurses why she chose the job and what keeps her going. She paused, thought it through, and then she said, “It’s more than just a job, I guess. Knowing that you’re making things better, one patient at a time… or sometimes a whole family at a time. As far as I’m concerned - for me - that’s what it’s all about.”