If you are a Michigander, a Kalamazoo University alumna is preventing for your wellness treatment.

A small time after graduating from K, Audrey Gerard ’19 delayed dealing with what could have been a simple overall health difficulty simply because she had no health and fitness insurance policy. By delaying treatment, she essential to be hospitalized for 8 days. She recovered, but without the need of insurance policies protection, her medical payments amounted to much more than $100,000.

Thankfully, an unexpected emergency Medicare method pared down her fees. Nevertheless her knowledge prompts her goal currently of making guaranteed you can avoid comparable challenges. Gerard functions to grow obtain to medical treatment and coverage protection throughout the condition as the Well being Treatment for All Organizer at Michigan United, a coalition of labor, business, social-service and civil-legal rights teams that struggle for home owners, renters, immigrant families, learners and a variety of underrepresented constituencies.

“Talking about our clinical requires is type of taboo,” Gerard reported. “It’s not some thing you’re likely to provide up at get the job done or converse about at the dinner table for the reason that it’s not the most pleasurable matter. But when people begin opening up and sharing their tales, they commonly get started considering that they’ve been specifically and negatively impacted by problems surrounding their wellness care and they want to speak out. We want to aid them.”

Gerard’s efforts in this regard have been regarded in January when she been given the Justice Warrior Award presented by the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity. The award is given to a local community activist or organizer that led a neighborhood work to carry about alter on a regional, county or statewide stage. It was offered to Gerard for taking a threat, remaining courageous, and usually conversing with people who disagreed with her about difficulties such as reproductive health and the U.S. Supreme Courtroom overturning Roe v. Wade.

Gerard, Michigan United as a full, and its volunteers were being invited to a roundtable with Michigan Voices, a nonprofit organization that invests in grassroots campaigns to progress fairness-looking for group efforts. The roundtable labored with the ACLU to publish the laws for Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All initiative, top men and women such as Gerard to rally aid by collecting signatures all throughout the point out. Gerard aided accumulate 1,400 signatures in an location of the Higher Peninsula that has about 4,000 people.

Eventually, the initiative was approved for the midterm election ballot past drop as Proposal 3, and its ultimate good results has because amended the state’s constitution, giving unique rights to reproductive independence, together with the ideal to make and have out being pregnant-related decisions. 

“We realized this was a wellness treatment issue and we need to absolutely be combating on behalf of it,” Gerard explained. “I took a significant danger remaining in an extremely conservative, rural local community, considerably absent from exactly where I grew up in Ann Arbor, to be daring and to fight on behalf of these insurance policies. There was an outpouring of guidance, even from people we wouldn’t have guessed would assist it. They attended a rally that I arranged, and they explained they did not want the government analyzing what they could or could not do with their bodies. We talked to 2,800 men and women right here and knocked on that quite a few doors to express our level and make positive the Higher Peninsula was involved in these vital conversations about reproductive well being.”

In her sophomore yr in large faculty, Gerard determined to go to Early School Alliance at Eastern Michigan College the place she located herself fascinated in advocacy perform. When attending ECA, she landed a aspect-time job with the environmental advocacy team Clear Drinking water Action wherever she located her passion and skill for civic engagement.

As a senior at K, Gerard worked with the Just Food Collective student group to secure a hoop residence on campus. She also commenced functioning for an additional business as a volunteer on a regional campaign trying to get to continue to keep an asylum seeker in Kalamazoo in 2019. In 2020, she joined Michigan United for a short-phrase situation ahead of being on to commence her comprehensive-time career as the organization’s statewide health care organizer.

Her comprehensive-time position was based mostly in Kalamazoo at initially, but she identified a transfer to the Upper Peninsula was essential if she and Michigan United wished to correctly concentrate on health and fitness treatment fairness across the condition. Just after connecting with and consulting Governor Gretchen Whitmer and then-condition Rep. Darrin Camilleri ’14 on a COVID-19 wellness-treatment relief deal, Gerard advocated for her relocation, and because, she has lived in rural Michigan, supporting health treatment efforts there and in other places across the point out.

“We all have a wellness treatment story and a motive to fight for overall health care for all,” Gerard claimed. “One of the most important successes, I imagine, that we’ve had in this earlier yr is finding persons from rural Michigan included in this do the job, because typically individuals residing in rural Michigan are the last to be believed about when it comes to wellness care procedures, but they are also really directly impacted.”

In 2022, Gerard’s experienced attempts commenced slowly and gradually when she invited about 50 individuals to enable kind a Michigan Community Health Treatment Committee.

“No one confirmed up,” Gerard stated. “One individual finally arrived and they ended up late. Which is when it dawned on me that I was not getting men and women in their gut to experience strongly about prioritizing their well being in excess of the nuts-large price tag of insurance, producing meds reasonably priced, and why we have to have to combat to quit medication rationing and outrageous prescription expenditures.”

Health Care Organizer Audrey Gerard '19, holding an award, and Michigan United Executive Director Ken Whitaker at a church
Audrey Gerard ’19 and Michigan United Executive Director Ken Whitaker rejoice Gerard receiving the Justice Warrior Award introduced by the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity.
Audrey Gerard and several award honorees
Audrey Gerard ’19 (3rd from still left) celebrates with other honorees when she gets the Justice Warrior Award introduced by the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity.

Wellbeing Care and the Earth Working day of Social Justice

Kalamazoo University is featuring Audrey Gerard ’19 on February 20, the World Day of Social Justice, for her do the job seeking overall health treatment fairness across Michigan.

The United Nations initially celebrated the Earth Working day of Social Justice in 2009, when member states were invited to dedicate it to the marketing of nationwide functions in accordance with the goals and plans of the Planet Summit for Social Progress.

As regarded by the Earth Summit, social advancement aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality inside of and among international locations and social justice, equality and equity represent the fundamental values of all societies. To realize “a culture for all” governments produced a dedication to the development of a framework for motion to market social justice at national, regional and worldwide degrees. They also pledged to advertise the equitable distribution of income and higher access to sources as a result of equity and equality and chance for all. 


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