Mar 23, 2022

Inspired by the stories of the good work, selfless acts of kindness, and the adversity being overcome daily by clinic staff and our own surveyors alike, we are compelled to share some of the challenges and happy endings we’ve encountered over the last year. Through the lens of our rural advisors, we invite you to come along for a ride down that country road to see the places, people, patients, and providers that make living and working in rural America a unique and rewarding experience.

Certainly, your patients tell you that travel to and from your clinic can be an adventure not easily navigated especially during inclement weather. Our first story was shared by Esther, an experienced surveyor and seasoned traveler. She is easily recognized by her infectious smile and the southern lilt in her voice. She’s known to be punctual, as well as friendly when arriving for a site visit. She’s rarely seen a snowflake around her southern homestead, which made her latest assignment near the Canadian border in upstate New York that much more unique. After a successful 3 days of surveys across multiple clinics, Esther was ready and eager to head south for home but a blizzard was brewing, and her window of opportunity was closing quickly.

To hear Esther tell it, “Ya’ll won’t believe it when I tell you that the weather was turning bad fast. I knew there is only one flight out a day and my flight got cancelled. Oddly, not from the snowstorm but because the pilot got sick, the ONLY pilot got sick! After checking with the young counter person, I realized my only option to get back was the Trailways Bus Service, so I bought myself a ticket and boarded the bus – to Syracuse. You can’t make this stuff up!”

Esther continued to regale us with tales of her bus trip, the family eating their picnic lunch, the older couple that boarded after her with the woman emphatically stating she was “getting too old for this *expletive,*” and then arriving in Syracuse only to find out she had missed her flight home by 8 minutes! As the snow turned the landscape into a white out, the hope of getting home faded into the distance and a hotel would be home for the night.

The happy ending is that Esther made it home safely the next day, a weary traveler with survey paperwork in hand and reports to fill out for the home office. The clinic staff had happily celebrated the success of their surveys, unaware of their surveyor’s travel dilemma, all the while breathing a sigh of relief at her departure. Such is the day in the life of a surveyor.

“Kindness is like snow- It beautifies everything it covers.” – Kahlil Gibran