I predict I am going to come down with a nasty virus in about 72 hours. I am not a medicine woman or a flu whisperer that can foresee pending colds and infections and I don’t have a crystal ball that reveals my future.
My prediction is based on the fact that I was trapped in a germ tube, also known as an airplane, with what I am now sure was filled with people recently diagnosed with bronchitis, strep throat, a mystery itchy rash and fever.
On my flight coughing, sweating, itchy, and wheezing travelers surrounded me. I tried to hold my breath but after several hours it became a challenge. Finally I succumbed to inhaling the contaminated air. I kept thinking this was the time to deploy the oxygen masks but I couldn’t convince the flight attendants.
As I sat strapped in the airbus of clinical doom I imagined waiting at an urgent care or my doctor’s office, time away from work, filling out paperwork and filling prescriptions. Basically I was feeling sorry for myself in advance.
Then I remembered Yajaida Vasquez, ARNP.
Yajaida was the speaker several weeks ago at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund fall luncheon.
Once a year contributors to the Women’s Legacy Fund and their invited guests gather to award grant dollars to support women and girls in Southwest Florida. The contributors to the fund determine the grant focus area based on research conducted by the team at the Foundation. They also hear from a speaker who creates change in our community.
This year the women of the fund selected increasing access to goods and services in neighborhoods as their focus and Yajaida was on hand to discuss the access to healthcare in underserved areas of our region.
I was expecting her to present the challenges and opportunities women and girls face in gaining access to healthcare. What I wasn’t expecting was her firsthand testimony of her experiences of navigating the healthcare system as a young woman living in poverty and for a short time homelessness.
She told the group her authentic and heartfelt story of waiting all day to see a doctor, less than friendly interactions with overworked clinic staff, stark waiting rooms that smelled like sickness, and never seeing the same doctor twice.
There was not a dry eye in the house. But the tears were not of sorrow, but rather of hope. Yajaida’s story is one of taking a challenge and turning it into opportunity. She took her life experiences and through scholarships from Southwest Florida Community Foundation donors and others went to school and became a Registered Nurse and an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner simultaneously, and opened her own practice. She has dedicated her life to changing the experiences she faced. Her message about access to healthcare for women in Southwest Florida began with her willingness to make a difference.
I considered my certain near future trips to the doctor I was suddenly filled with gratitude. I have insurance, I see the same physicians consistently and so does my whole family, I am always greeted with compassion and friendliness at the clinics I frequent and I have money to handle the co-pays. I am privileged and one of lucky sick people.
Yajaida opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone shares this same experience. She also showed me that thanks to people like her and women like those in the Women’s Legacy Fund, we could create better experiences for women and girls.
Suddenly I was feeling much better. If my prediction on a lurking virus comes true, I think I will make an appointment with Yajaida. It will feel good to be part of the vision of healthcare she is trying to create for all of us.
If you would like to hear more about Yajaida’s story, check out her video “Scholarship Recipient Comes Back to Give Back” on the home page of our website at www.floridacommunity.com.