GOOD

How New Orleans’ Health Clinic for Musicians Survived the Storm

The local healthcare provider weathered Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Legendary New Orleans bluesman Rooster plays near Bourbon Street, via Flickr user Brandon

Tourism lies at the heart New Orleans’ recovering economy. Visitors spent a record $6.5 billion in the city in 2013, up from $2.8 billion in the year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Big Easy. And tourism, one could argue, might not be possible without some of the city’s most talented and hardworking denizens: its musicians.


Unfortunately, many of New Orleans’ artists fall in what’s called the “sacrifice zone”: They make too much to qualify for Louisiana’s less-than-generous Medicaid program, but too little to tap into federally funded Obamacare.

Enter the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, founded in 1998 as a more cost-effective option for the city’s music community. As co-founder and director Bethany Ewald Bultman writes in a moving essay on NextCity, “The NOMC proudly serves a culture which was bent by slavery, poverty, disease, and flood and who responded un-broken with the USA’s only indigenous art form, Jazz.”

But NOMC’s mission was seriously threatened ten years ago, when rising waters overcame the levees protecting New Orleans, flooding a full 80 percent of the city. In the aftermath of Hurricaine Katrina, the waters destroyed many of the medical records of the clinic’s 837 patients, and staff, patients, and their families were scattered across the state and the country.

Bultman writes of her 2005 efforts to save the clinic after Katrina:

I borrowed $15,000 from my mom and boarded a standing-room only bus for the seven-hour trip to Lafayette the day after Labor Day, to open a new bank account for the NOMC at the Iberia Bank. A community medical center gave me a broom closet and a computer. I emailed our banking information to folks who wanted to assist musicians by wiring us funds. With the help of friends in Lafayette we took the money to Walmart, bought $250 gift cards and Fed Exed them to our musicians in shelters all over the country. We worked with assessors in rural Louisiana Parishes who “loaned” homes to musicians who wanted to come back to their home state. We funded gigs at $100 a man first in Lafayette and then back in New Orleans. It took a month to completely drain the water out of our city so that residents could begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

By Thanksgiving 2005, much of the city still lay devastated by the floods, its inhabitants dispersed—but NOMC became one of the first health clinics to reopen in New Orleans.

In the ten years since Katrina, the clinic has thrived. Bultman reports that NOMC now serves 2,500 patients in a new facility in uptown New Orleans, with an expanded staff of seven. Still, she notes there is still much more work to do to care for the city’s musician population.

“[U]ntil we can overcome health disparities, we will still be dancing in the streets at funerals,” Bultman writes.

Read Bethany Ewald Bultman’s entire essay here.

Articles
Screenshot via Sweden.se/Twitter (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics