Event helped South Siders enroll in Obamacare
At the Rahma Health Clinic, pizza and cookies were served in the waiting room for those who attended the Free Health Fair held Thursday, Dec. 19. Next to the entrance was a table with a sign-up sheet for receiving further information about affordable healthcare. Attendees received free hearing screenings, a tour of the clinic and information on the Affordable Care Act.
Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, 27, a graduate student at Whitman School of Business at Syracuse University, coordinated the Free Health Care event to help South Siders enroll in health insurance. He explained that oftentimes patients worry about their health insurance coverage. They wonder what options they have after their coverage ends or which health plan to purchase for their first time.
Abdul-Qadir has been a long time advocator for accessible healthcare. A few years ago, he was ill.
“I lost a significant amount of weight; I was very heavily ill,” Abdul-Qadir said. “I didn’t have healthcare, and I was very lucky to be able to survive that without healthcare, but imagine if I did have healthcare.”
Abdul-Qadir helped the Islamic Society of Central New York and the Rahma Health Clinic to collaborate in sponsoring and hosting the Free Health Fair. The Rahma Health Clinic offers free healthcare services to people without insurance.
“I’m happy that the clinic is here in the heart of the South Side,” he said. “It is not afraid to be here on South Salina and work with everyone in the community.”
The hearing screenings were preliminary tests that tell whether or not a follow up test is necessary. Each screening took about five minutes and was performed by Audiologist Hammam AlMakadma, 27. He is also completing his Ph.D at SU in the Communications Sciences and Disorders department.
“[At] events likes this, people become more literate in healthcare and audiology,” AlMakadma said about why he volunteered to give free hearing screenings. “We’d like people to know what is important in checking your hearing, and if you have a hearing problem, how to take care of it.”
Aziza Mohammed, 24, is a health plan enrollment specialist from Peace Corporate Inc. who advised patients on enrolling in healthcare coverage during the event.
“They were glad that I was here for them to show how the website worked. Some of them were able to create their own account as well,” Mohamed said.
She said that although patients came in with misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act, they left satisfied with more knowledge than they had when they first came in.
“You never know what can happen to you tomorrow,” she said, “so you’ve got to think of the long run for yourself.”
Magda Bayoumi, the co-founder of the Rahma Health Clinic, said the Free Health Fair was also a way to reintroduce the health clinic after having been opened for over a year. She hopes to partner with Abdul-Qadir and AlMakadma again to offer another free health fair in the spring of 2014.
“We find a lot of people are not aware of how to sign up for the Obamacare,” Bayoumi said. “We feel we can give an avenue to people to come here and sign up for health care because the Internet is confusing.”
– Article and photos by Vekonda Luangaphay, graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications