June 30, 2008

Sacramento Bound

Hello all, Heather Anne here…

I want to start this post by thanking all of you who have taken interest in Operation Medical Libraries. It’s support from friends like you that help to further this wonderful cause! It’s only Monday and the rate to which we have progressed is more than we could have hoped!

On June 11th, I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Assemblyman Cook, who serves California’s Sixty Fifth District. I decided to contact his Capital Office to schedule an appointment after reviewing his bio. He is a very accomplished man, having served in the military for twenty-six years, to which he received the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. As part of the State Assembly, he currently sits on the Budget, Higher Education, and Veterans Affairs Committee. Reading through his qualifications, it seemed like a natural Government resource for Operation Medical Libraries.

Ten minutes prior to our meeting, I was on my way to the Capital by foot when I realized that I was heading in the completely wrong direction. I called his office in a state of panic to let his staff know that I would be about five minutes late. When I hung-up, all I could think was that in military time, five minutes most likely equates to half an our late. I took off my shoes, ran down the street in my nylons, circled through the Capital gardens, went through the metal detector, up the elevator, and over to his office. There I sat drenched from exertion and the blazing heat, with my briefcase and the report I had compiled.

During our meeting, I went over Operation Medical Libraries and explained our need for funding. I didn’t know what to expect, as I was essentially doing a “cold call” face-to-face. Fortunately, I was met with a great deal of support and he stated that he was 100% behind our efforts. Due to the budget crises in California, there’s no possibility of obtaining funding from the state; however, there are other resources, namely Federal/Foundation Grants and private support.

I feverishly wrote down all suggestions, which included creating an Operation Medical Libraries Coalition Board, creating a budget outline, contact the National Guard, Doctor’s Without Borders and create a follow-up report. He created his own checklist, to which I will provide details, once I’m given the official approval. We ended the meeting with a firm handshake and he suggested a follow-up meeting. When you think of how this kind of synergy will affect so many lives, I was overcome by emotion, which resulted in tears cascading down my face the moment I walked out of his office. So for those of you in the Capital Elevator, who saw a sweaty and crying girl that afternoon, this is my justification.

That brings us today. Valerie (UCLA), Brooke (UCSD), and I are preparing for my follow-up meeting on Wednesday back in Sacramento. The Operation Medical Libraries Coalition Board is growing domestically and internationally. We’ve been getting phone calls from the press and various communications’ offices eager to learn more about our program. We’re in the process of applying for Foundation Grants and developing ideas on how to spread the grassroots movement. Our official website will be launched in the fall; in the meantime, we’ll be housed at operationmedicallibraries.blogspot.com.

The collective passion for this cause will surely propel things forward at a rapid pace. I’ll be sure to provide an update after Wednesday’s meeting. Hopefully this time I’ll be on time and a bit more composed in appearance and emotion.

June 28, 2008

Photos from the Home Front to the Front Lines

Photobucket Album
Location: Afghanistan

Medical Libraries Project Grows by Volumes and Becomes Operation Medical Libraries

As the creator of UCLA Medical Alumni Association’s Books without Borders, I have had the wonderful good fortune to be a pebble in the pond. The stone that was cast into cyberspace has created ripple effects, which can be felt 11,000 miles away from the Westwood campus. I have had the privilege to work with many of the fine nurses and physicians from all three of the United States military medical corps, who “voluntoured” to leave their family and friends for bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am honored by their confidence and enthusiasm that Books without Borders would supply them with donated medical textbooks and journals for their training and transition responsibilities.

After 14 months and over 6 tons of donated medical materials, Books without Borders (BWB) outgrew the limitations of the UCLA Medical Alumni Association. To enable the medical libraries project to continue to grow in scope and significance, a coalition of global supporters banned together and formed Operation Medical Libraries (OML). Like BWB, OML will collect and distribute current medical textbooks and journals through a partnership with American medical/nursing schools, hospitals, and physicians and the United States military for the purpose of fostering the creation of permanent medical libraries and supporting the expansion of existing collections in conflict regions where healthcare education and the practice of medicine are suffering.

Operation Medical Libraries will significantly enhance the initial and continuing medical education of healthcare professionals in communities crippled by the lack of materials. Through its support of everyday healthcare and academic medicine, Operation Medical Libraries will impact the long-term health and welfare of people and ultimately support the development of essential services and human rights in regions torn by conflict. For more information on Operation Medical Libraries,
email info@OperationMedicalLibraries.org

Photo Credit: Richard Maddox
Pictured: Commander Christopher Talcott, 2006-08 Chair UCLA Military Sciences and Valerie Walker, Director, UCLA Medical Alumni Association