Someone else read that USA Today story as well, and was so moved by it that he and his son paid a visit to the Center. From The Daily Globe, writer Julie Buntjer, tells us about the trip Martin and Michael Lucin made to the Appalachian Mountains.
Recalling his first glimpse of poverty deep in the Appalachian Mountains, Martin said it was stark.
“It was abject poverty, plain and simple,” he said. “The face of poverty is different now than what it used to be. (Kemner and Gall) made a huge difference. Fifty years ago, I think people just didn’t have enough to eat. Now, some people might not have enough to eat, but people who have a little money to buy food don’t know what food to buy.”
Some of the families they encountered live on fast food and Mountain Dew, and they have health issues to prove it. Tooth decay, diabetes and associated ailments are common among those who visit the local clinics. There were also a number of people being treated for issues relating to tobacco use, which is quite common in the region.
“The reason I asked Peggy to set (the visit) up was I thought that an experience like that would impact the kind of doctor (Michael) will become,” said Martin. “What Michael ended up doing … was seeing the health and the medical (aspects) of poverty.”
Michael is slated to graduate in spring 2010 from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and then plans to attend medical school. He remains uncertain of the type of practice he will pursue.
After working alongside medical professionals for a week in Guatemala last November, Michael said he noted some similarities about the two experiences.
“The trip kind of built on (the fact that) different areas have different health issues,” said Michael. “Follow a family doctor here and you’ll see a lot of colds, common things. But if you go to Guatemala, you’ll see a lot of parasite-type stuff.
“At the same time, if you go to Kentucky — the area we were in — you see a lot higher prevalence of the things that are associated with smoking, like emphysema and a lot of lung problems,” Michael said.