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South Carolina Honors College

I Promise, You're Not Forgotten

by Zayd Kidwai

You may not remember me, but I’ve not forgotten you. Since we met last summer, I’ve thought about you and your story every day. I wanted to write to you and let you know how your story has impacted me. Also, I hope you don’t mind if I share our interaction with others, as I believe South Carolina could greatly benefit from your experience…

As I walked inside your hospital room that day, I was among many high schoolers shadowing different specialties throughout the hospital. As you may guess, I chose to shadow your nurse, the hospital's only diabetes and nutrition specialist. Little did I know that this decision would soon prove to be not only one of the most shocking but one of the most influential I had ever made.

The first feeling of shock came to me when I was introduced to your nurse. Alone and in a room with three desks, she told me that because of the pressure of the job she had recently seen two of her coworkers depart from the hospital. Now, left to complete the job of three diabetes and nutrition specialists, the situation came as a surprise to me, although in hindsight, it shouldn’t have. After all, the Bureau of Health Workforce projects South Carolina to be one of seven states facing a significant nursing shortage by 2030—ranking it fourth overall throughout the country. To make matters worse, if your nurse fails to demonstrate improvement in her patients' conditions, including yours, the hospital will be forced to discontinue its diabetes and nutrition education. This would leave you and countless others without the proper care you deserve. As I began to sympathize with her pressure, I wanted to reassure her that she still had plenty of time to figure it out. However, the truth is that the situation was beyond her ability and was similar to the difficulties many other healthcare workers face across the state.

Although the intimidation of this exchange with your nurse was short-lived, the shock I felt lingered as we walked to your room. She explained that you had been involved in a car accident a few years back, leaving you utterly dependent on others. Not only that, but one by one, your family and friends slowly became less and less involved in your life, leaving you all alone. She speculated that your physical disability and the lack of proper care ultimately resulted in the development of your diabetes. And when you decided to hire a home care nurse, she, too, slowly started skipping her shifts, leaving you without the lifesaving medicine that you needed.

Due to your situation, you became increasingly dependent on South Carolina's healthcare system, and rightfully so. But most shocking of all, was the neglect you received when you looked towards our hospital system for help.

There should not have been a single reason you were neglected in your room for an entire day. There should not have been a reason they didn't give you your medication because of your financial situation. And there should certainly not have been a reason you felt forgotten about during your stay. I speak on behalf of any compassionate reader who finds their hands on this letter when I say this: I promise, you are not forgotten.

As I left your room, I reflected on the healthcare you should have been receiving. Ask me now, "How should we improve the state of South Carolina?" and my mind targets our healthcare system. The system is in dire need of improvement and refinement. We shouldn't shut down hospital sectors and make decisions based on patients' financial abilities, but rather prioritize the well-being of patients like you, who deserve nothing less than the best care possible. It is only when we truly care for our people that we can begin to care for the state of South Carolina.

I hope your story will inspire others to make a difference.

Zayd Kidwai
About Zayd Kidwai, second place winner

Zayd Kidwai is a junior at GREEN Upstate High School in Simpsonville. The son of Rana Kidwai and Dr. Asif Kidwai of Duncan, Zayd wants to study biomedical engineering and help increase diabetes education in his career. Penny Wilcox was his English 101 teacher at Greenville Technical College.

Zayd Kidwai on Instagram.

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