Nurses in the healthcare crisis: Eddie Culbreth
The Charlotte Volunteers in Medicine Clinic has been working to provide health screenings and education to the medically underserved in Charlotte-Mecklenburg since 1999. Uninsured members of the community can come to the clinic and receive blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings as well as education on breast health, nutrition and overall preventive care. The clinical services include primary care for adults ages 18-64; management of diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions; and dental care.
For community-minded Eddie Culbreth, LPN, becoming a volunteer at the Charlotte Volunteers in Medicine Clinic not only provided an opportunity to do the work she truly loves for those who need her care the most, but has also been a lesson in making hard-earned dreams come true. Read on to get our full interview with Eddie below!
Scrubs: How did you get involved in the work you do with this clinic?
Eddie: I’m an LPN and have mainly worked in outpatient services. I viewed the opportunity to work with Donna Lacey, Executive Director of the Charlotte Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, as a chance to take things a step further by allowing me to dedicate my skills to the community and really make a difference. I actually started as a volunteer, but now I’m an employee of the clinic. From the beginning, the clinic’s mission was to save lives. I was fortunate enough to hear the dream and see it actually become a reality. It has never been about the money—it has always been about educating people about healthcare, especially the underserved population.
Scrubs: What are your hopes for the future of healthcare?
Eddie: My hope is that everyone will be able to get treatment regardless of their insured status. If the treatment is available, then everyone should be entitled to it.
Scrubs: What would you recommend other nurses do to become part of a program like this?
Eddie: Give volunteering a try. Check to see if there’s a local place or a free clinic nearby where you can donate your time. Just give a few hours a week—you’ll be amazed at how appreciative people are, and they’ll listen to your advice because they’re really interested in being healthy. Not only that, but they enjoy the company and will be very excited that you’re there. It’s an experience every nurse should have.
Scrubs: What have been the most rewarding moments of this work so far?
Eddie: My most rewarding moment was when I witnessed our executive director receive the award for “Healthcare Humanitarian” by a local prestigious magazine. To see her get that recognition was awesome because I was there in the beginning. I know the blood, sweat and tears she puts into serving her patients—I was there when the county denied her for funding and it seemed like the wells would dry up, but she persevered. Because of my work with this clinic, I have an understanding of how much work it takes to serve the uninsured. There are tremendous sacrifices made in order for clinics like this to keep their doors open, and for me, it was a chance to witness a young woman who’s really making a difference in this community.
Scrubs: How did you find the time and energy to work as a nurse and also volunteer?
Eddie: It’s all about priorities. If I dedicate my time to volunteering, then I schedule my time to fit it in. I try to arrange my schedule so that I have nothing else to do during that time—it’s normally only a four-hour window, and I enjoy every bit of it!
Eddie Culbreth is an LPN and has been a nurse since 1973. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., she attended school in Newark, N.J., and worked for Carolinas Medical Center for more than 19 years. Eddie describes herself as a “people person” with the uncanny ability to diffuse sticky situations. “I absolutely love the one-on-one time with patients,” she confesses. Eddie was inspired to become a nurse after the premature birth of her son, and once she got a taste of what being a nurse was all about, she quickly fell in love with the profession. She resides in Charlotte and is very active at her local church and with her high school alumni association.
By Eddie Culbreth