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Hi! My name is Esther and I’m a rising sophomore at Duke. Currently, I’m on the pre-med track and still undeclared, but I’m thinking about studying biology, psychology, and/or neuroscience. This summer, I’ll be working with Ashwin and Lauren in the primary care department of CrescentCare, a federally qualified health center in New Orleans dedicated to providing health and wellness services to the community. They offer a wide range of resources to their clients, such as primary medical care, behavioral health, legal services, and treatment and prevention for STIs like HIV and Hepatitis C.


At CrescentCare, there are a couple projects that I could be involved in. One involves contacting clients that have stopped receiving care from CrescentCare for a period of time in order to check in with them and help with any barriers preventing them from receiving care. When discussing this project, I learned about how numerous aspects of a person’s life can impact whether or not they can seek out health care, from lack of transportation to other priorities like work or children. Considering how important treatment can be for individuals and the community when dealing with a disease, I hope to support CrescentCare’s efforts to bring people back into care.


Another project is in response to the new subscription model for treating Hepatitis C in Louisiana, which would allow for more people to get access to an otherwise very expensive medication for the disease. CrescentCare will be working to ensure that people are eligible for treatment through this new model once it begins being implemented. This is an amazing opportunity for people who don’t have other means to afford this medication to finally obtain treatment for the disease, thus taking steps to limit Hepatitis C in Louisiana. I plan on going through training to help people fill out the paperwork necessary to benefit from this subscription model, and I’m very excited to be at CrescentCare during this significant moment.


So far, my time in New Orleans has been filled with surprises, both good and bad. I’ve never been here before, but after learning about its history and culture through the Katrina exhibit, a city-wide tour, and our own adventures in the city’s streets, I’ve realized how lively and culturally rich New Orleans is. However, there are still shadows left from the Storm that remind me of what happened here. At the Katrina exhibit, we heard the stories of how devastating Katrina was and the suffering people had to endure. On the tour, we saw the empty lots of people who didn’t move back after leaving the city as our tour guide told us how high the water was in the regions we drove through. I was only a little kid when Katrina happened. This was the first time I saw the damage in person and it was shocking.


I couldn’t imagine how a city could recover from something so destructive, physically and emotionally, but despite the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, this city and its people have remarkable resiliency and an incredible sense of community. At CrescentCare, everyone I’ve met has been so friendly and kind. They treat each other like family, and they have done so much to include us in that, even if it meant going out of their way to make sure we got on the right bus and made it safely back home. This city also has such a distinctive personality, filled with music and laughter and food! I bet I could write an entire post just about the food, and just about everyone we’ve met has their own suggestions on where we should go to get what they consider to be the best of every New Orleans cuisine staple. Festivals, like the Tomato Festival we visited last weekend, are held all year round, marrying the enjoyment of great food with great live music. It’s clear that this city has a certain spirit that draws people back for more. I’m looking forward to the next two months here and I can’t wait to see what else New Orleans has to offer!