As a volunteer leader with Watermark’s efforts through International Students Inc, Joe and his wife Chris get to play a unique role in the lives of students who make their way to the United States for college from around the world. From being the first to greet them at the airport to helping figure out credit cards, Joe gets to be one of the first Americans to help international students assimilate into a new country, school, and culture. He’s earned the nickname Uncle Joe for good reason- the students he walks through college with quickly become like family.
One issue that Joe sees arise frequently with new students is a lack of access to affordable healthcare. While college campuses often have healthcare plans available to international students, they can cost upwards of thousands of dollars each semester and offer limited coverage.
“Many students arrive and might be struggling financially, or don’t have a job yet and are weighing the reality of large tuition bills.” Joe explained. “Purchasing health insurance at those rates isn’t an option. Others might get here before school starts so they fall in a gap before their coverage can begin. When they get sick, they’re left in a new country without choices.”
As a member at Watermark Community Church, Joe was familiar with Watermark Urgent Care and has been able to connect the students he knows with the available healthcare services.
That’s how Vineet got connected to our Plano clinic earlier this year.
“I moved from India in the Spring of 2018. Uncle Joe was the guy who took me from the airport to the house I was supposed to go to. Since that first day he has helped me learn about the United States and showed me how to take care of my needs here. In the spring of this year, I started to have some kind of pain in my ear. I would wake up in the middle of the night and lose sleep, and it was affecting my ability to go to classes and focus on school.”
“When I told him about what was happening, Uncle Joe brought me to the clinic. When I came here it was all great. I came and got checked in. They asked me about the problem very politely. I told them everything that had been going on and they were able to explain to me that I had an ear infection and gave me the proper medication to treat it. The medicine helped and I was better in 5 days. I was impressed with how quickly they were able to help me with the core problem.”
From Joe’s perspective, he’s glad to be able to connect Vineet and other members of his international student family with a clinic that can provide the care needed. Vineet is grateful for that connection but wishes that even more knew about Watermark Urgent Care.
“I know about this clinic because I’m with Uncle Joe…but more people need to know about this. A lot of students have a hard time affording health insurance or finding coverage for their needs. This place is a resource that gives us a choice.”