ACCESS at Camp Barnabas

11.10.2010 10:45


Access is one of the values of our health center. Compassion, access, respect, and excellence are the values that identify our organization, but when I think of access, there is no way one person can make “access” happen. This is one of those words that will only work when it’s in the team category. Everyone in the health center is involved in making access a successful reality.

Access to me is doing everything we possibly can to eliminate barriers that might impede patients from being able to use our healthcare services. Over the last few years, we have worked hard at creating, enhancing, and extending access. Through these tough efforts, we are today able to see 62% more people since 2006 and we demonstrated an increased access to visits by 92%! These increased visits by our patients also show that we are becoming their healthcare home. This comes only as ACCESS Family team members worked hard to identify the inefficiencies and barriers that restricted access to the quality services we provide. We still have a ways to go, but we are very encouraged with the success we’ve seen so far.

Recently when I was down at Camp Barnabas for the groundbreaking of their new clinic they gave us a tour of the campground. We stopped momentarily at the high ropes course which is made of up of a series of huge utility poles with wires attached in various configurations, between and among the poles, several stories above ground. Our guide informed us that any child who wants to go through this course will have that wish honored. Now, keep in mind, we are not talking about a regular church camp like thousands of kids attend at places all over the nation, but this is a very special camp serving handicapped children. Paul and Cyndy Teas, Camp Directors, will tell you they refuse no child, no matter how severe the handicap; that’s total access. Total access also applies to the high ropes course. Blind children traverse the course, and even wheelchair bound children are not denied access to the ropes course. Can you imagine that? How do they do that? They find a way to make it happen. That, to me, is a perfect example of creating access. No matter the handicap; no one is denied a camp experience to the fullest extent the camper desires.

If you haven’t been to Camp Barnabas for a visit; it’s an awesome experience. Many of you may remember when they were featured on ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover; some of you may even have been involved in that particular project. Over the years, I’ve seen Camp Barnabas transform from it’s earlier, more rugged accommodations to the very nice handicap-accessible facilities they now have. They worked on a plan that had unlimited access at the end for the final goal. It’s going to be a pleasure working with them in operating a medical clinic at their facility to provide access to quality healthcare for the community.

Although their needs for access are a little different than ours (we don’t have a high ropes course for patients to climb) the end goal is the same—create access. I think we can learn from the folks at Camp Barnabas, and certainly we can learn from their campers. What do our patients need? Then let’s find a way to make it happen—let’s create access.

Soon we hope to have some information on our website about Camp Barnabas and the clinic project. If you don’t know much about Camp Barnabas or if you’ve never visited, I urge you to do so. They take volunteers which include medical staff and camp buddies to work with the campers. This is one of those opportunities for a life-changing experience; and being able to make a difference in other’s lives is the best investment anyone can make.