Jennifer Paul* has 30 years of work experience in healthcare, where she is now working as a Program Coordinator at a center for disabilities. I came to her workplace on Sept. 12 in Los Angeles to ask her opinion about the American healthcare system and the response to the international Ebola epidemic.
Jennifer Paul’s start began in West Virginia, where she migrated along the east coast and unintentionally began working in the healthcare field. An inventive plan by her mother led her to work at a facility for disabled adults in hope to buy her first car. Her mother agreed to match her earnings ‘dollar for dollar’.
“She didn’t want me doing drugs”, Jennifer said, “and there’s nothing to do in Indiana; so getting me to work for a car and keeping me busy had a dual purpose”.
From there, Jennifer stayed in the industry and worked in several health-related fields, from day surgery assistant to Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
Pressing on, I asked Jennifer’s opinion about the Ebola virus and where America should stand in international health affairs.
“It’s a universal issue,” she states. In addition, Jennifer expressed that America should provide additional support to countries directly affected and should not leave suffering countries to deal with this on their own.
“We are going to third world countries; here I can buy cigarettes, sushi, I’m driving an SUV; we take it for granted- It’s embarrassing how greedy we are. We need to be focused on bigger issues”.
Consequently, when I asked Jennifer where we should be focusing in our healthcare system, she shook her head and told me she did not know where to begin.
“I honestly believe we have cures, but I don’t think it meets the pharmaceutical needs,” she states. She explains that our healthcare system is making too much money off of disease and illness that a cure would put too many corporations out of business.
“I believe that the health industry has cures- but there is more investment in not sharing them,” she says.
Jennifer’s co-worker Andy Kauy*, a clerical assistant and new face to the healthcare world, shares a similar opinion when it comes to international problem solving for viruses such as Ebola.
“Everyone is a human being”, he says, “ and I think that America should put money aside for people that are disabled or homeless”. When I brought up the Ebola virus and its relevance to other nations, he told me, “Diseases affect everyone in every environment [like the homeless]”. He went on to tell me that he believes funding should go towards everyone affected by environmental factors.
In conclusion, I asked Jennifer how international diseases relate to her work life, as we wrapped up over a frozen yogurt and sushi roll.
“We are too far removed from the third world to be affected”, she states.
Her passion for the issue still exists, driving her to speak out about the issue.
“We need to start educating- not enough people know what is going on.”