Sometimes getting people to take you up on free health services is harder than it sounds. When the Baltimore City Health Department brought its needle-exchange van to the city’s red light district seven years ago, hardly anyone used it. Then they brought in Nathan Fields.
“They were under the impression that we were giving their information to the police,” Fields told NPR. The Baltimore-born-and-raised New England Patriots fan was at first treated like an outsider by the bouncers at The Block’s many strip clubs. But his affable nature and “great” negotiating skills (“Donald Trump couldn’t beat me out,” he said) won him the trust of the bouncers and, eventually, everybody else.
Fields was profiled in a beautiful and heartbreaking segment on NPR’s All Things Considered. The story is a powerful argument for the need for human touch in public health. Fields is such an effective healthcare worker because has built meaningful relationships with the people he serves. He asks about their families. He does things for them that are presumably beyond his job description (such as helping one dancer obtain a birth certificate so she could enter rehab).
It’s a worthwhile listen. You can do so here.
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