UMHS student Ariana Hernandez first learned about the demands of a career in medicine from her father, who is a physician. When the Puerto Rican native started college at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Pedras Campus, she worked with pediatric cancer patients as a volunteer at University Pediatric Hospital of Puerto Rico Medical Center and learned firsthand about the numerous needs of patients, especially the very ill.
Now Ms. Hernandez is a Basic Science student at UMHS and back in January she started the nonprofit Med4You, with a mission to “learn and disseminate knowledge about the diversity of healthcare systems in the world, support disadvantaged communities and advocate for healthcare access as a human right.” The UMHS Endeavour caught up with this bright young future doctor to talk about how and why she started Med4you, why she believes health care is a human right, the nonprofit’s goals, and what the organization has planned in the coming months to help communities in need in St. Kitts and beyond.
UMHS Endeavour: What gave you the idea to start Med4you?
Ariana Hernandez: The thought of starting this organization stemmed from a series of experiences throughout my life that guided me to establish Med4you. I was raised seeing the love and dedication my father, a physician, had towards medicine and his patients. Although I didn’t know much about medicine, observing the unique connection between my father and his patients amazed me beyond words. This made me develop a special feeling towards patients and each day that feeling continues to grow keeping my life centered toward my goals in medicine.
When I started college at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus, I began to learn more about the outside world and its needs. My focus was driven toward the needs of people and what I could do to help this world be a better one. At the time I was also a volunteer at the University Pediatric Hospital of Puerto Rico Medical Center, working with pediatric cancer patients. I can certainly say that my best life lessons in this journey have been from them. After those years, my desire to help patients to have a better life is stronger than ever. Today, I am away from my home, Puerto Rico, working to reach my dreams. Nevertheless, my drive to help my country and other parts of the world to gain better health care access, the need to have further knowledge about global health care and my desire to motivate people to make a bigger impact in society are the reason why Med4you started.
You state on your website that Med4you aims to humanize health. What do you mean by this?
We live in a world that is facing difficult circumstances where different issues continuously impact humanism. The desire to survive the tough times and become successful in life make it easy for individuals to lose perspective of the most important things in life. As a medical student, I can see how many future doctors tend to forget their purpose through the path toward their goals. Nowadays, we see doctors and different health professionals that have lost their devotion for their profession. What Med4you means by Humanize Health is to inspire and motivate all that relates to health and don’t let the circumstances change the essence of this fascinating world, looking always for the well-being of all patients as a priority.
You also say that health care is a human right, and I think many agree. What should people know about why this is true, especially in this day and age when many Americans cannot always afford their health insurance premiums and prescription co-payments, and politicians threaten to take away medical coverage for the poor and middle classes?
The health of one individual is the health of all the rest ones; if you are sick, the person next to you could get sick, too. Why should social status, location, education or other factors determine each individual’s health care access? Health care is not a matter of privilege; health care is a matter of the world’s health as one. We are facing a big economic crisis. However, if the government, health insurance companies as well as health professionals could have a better relationship, communicate and work together seeing healthcare as a human right, global healthcare access would be in the right direction.
Your mission is “To learn and disseminate knowledge about the diversity of healthcare systems in the world, support disadvantaged communities and advocate for healthcare access as a human right.” What are some ways that you plan to achieve your goals?
First of all, in order to work toward Med4you’s goal, it is essential to focus on and learn about the different health care systems, how they function and the circumstances present in each country. Through this process, we can learn from the strengths and the weaknesses of the different systems. With the help of experts in the field, we will have conferences focused on particular health care systems as well as integrating sources that will provide valuable information to improve our health care education. Also, with our future volunteer trips, we will be able to learn meanwhile we have the experience. As the lack of education is one of the barriers to health care access, it is crucial to share our knowledge with others. We will be doing this by using a webinar platform, through media, as well integrating health education in our different activities. Education is the primary root to achieve all our goals.
While Med4you continues with the learning process, we will keep helping communities in need. By doing so, we will be able to apply our knowledge, support humanity as well as humanize others and work to improve healthcare access one community at a time. We will be doing medical clinics, fundraising events, and voluntary service with the focus to improve each time more our services to fulfill the needs of the population.
We will advocate for health care access as a human right by using the force within unity. Med4you is committed to mediate the communication between different schools and future/present healthcare professionals as well as any entity that aims to improve the world’s health care access’ needs.
Tell us about some of the things Med4you has planned in the coming months.
For the upcoming months we plan to work together with Ponce Health Science University that have recently registered a new Med4you chapter. In addition to collaborating and coordinating events together, we plan to organize a volunteer trip in December, in order to bring medical services to a community in need.
We will have a Webinar Conference about Puerto Rico’s Health Care System with an influential speaker as well as other conferences about the health care system from many other countries.
In St. Kitts, we will continue to visit St. Christopher Children’s Home in order to educate them about medicine and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also we plan to improve the communication between health professionals working in St. Kitts, the community and the medical students.
We will continue our fundraising events in order to raise funds to buy medications or any other community needs.
We will coordinate more events as well. Med4you looks forward to welcome any individual or group interested in working toward our mission.
For more information about Med4You, please visit https://www.med4you.co/
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