One of the free health clinics launched due to the generosity of "Countdown" viewers took place over the weekend in New Orleans.
While Keith Olbermann was unable to attend himself due to his father's illness, "Countdown" producer Rich Stockwell — who Olbermann credited on air as the brains behind the drive to raise money for the clinics — did attend, and he wrote an essay for MSNBC.com about his experience.
In the essay, Stockwell relays several stories of patients who came to Saturday's clinic: the 50-year-old woman with stage four breast cancer whose cancer was likely diagnosed so late because she didn't have insurance; the nurse who holds down two part-time jobs but can't work enough hours to qualify for medical benefits; the woman sent to the hospital with a 220/180 blood pressure who didn't know why she wasn't feeling well.
"After watching for hours as the patients moved through the clinic, it was hard to believe that I was in America," Stockwell wrote. "Health reform is not about Democrats or Republicans or who can score political points for the next election, it's about people. It's about fairness and justice in a system that knows none. I'd defy even the most hardened capitalist-loving-conservative to do what I did on Saturday and continue to pretend that the system in place right now is working....There are no words that can accurately describe the quiet desperation on the faces of the patients. Every single one I spoke to, and every one I heard talking with doctors, expressed their gratitude for the event and wished that they were held more often."
Stockwell noted that the last time the media convened in the New Orleans convention center was to cover Hurricane Katrina; this time, however, "we were there to cover a man-made disaster of even larger proportions," he wrote.
Read his full essay at MSNBC.com or watch Olbermann's segment on the New Orleans clinic below:
The next clinic is set for Saturday in Little Rock.