2012 Bryce Haac

Bryce Elizabeth HaacBryce Elizabeth Haac

The 2012 Salber-Phillips award recipient was announced at the Community Service Day on February 17, in the NC Children’s Hospital. This year’s recipient is Bryce Elizabeth Haac, a  third-year medical student, interested in working with underserved communities, both in the United States and abroad to focus on patients in areas of care that are often overlooked. She is dedicated to the care of the immigrant population in the United States, many of whom are Latin American and is focused on research that strives to increase access to and improve quality of care in the aforementioned populations.

The research conducted and submitted for consideration by Bryce Elizabeth Haac for the Slaber-Phillips award was titled, “What do retired U.S. expatriates living in Latin America do when they or their significant other experience acute health events or chronic disease?”  This study sought to learn more about the health care utilization, outcomes and determinants of these decisions, of older adults who have retired to Panama from the U.S.

Research was conducted over the course of 2011 in the country of Panama, and in the regions of Panama City and Chiriqui. Study participants had to be 60 years-of-age or older, had to have lived in Panama full-time for at least one year, and while living in Panama have been hospitalized for at least three days for non-elective or acute care, and/or have been managing a chronic illness.

According to Haac, “My participation in this project opened my eyes to the barriers in obtaining health care for the retired population both in the U.S. and abroad. Many U.S. retirees seem to be not only forgotten by the current health care system, but those with significant medical problems are left with large health care bills despite having Medicare, a result of gaps in coverage. In addition, several retirees in Panama indicated they could not afford to stay in the U.S. due to cost of living, but without a provision of health insurance abroad they are left with many difficult medical financial decisions.”

Haac stated, “This research study sparked my interest in health care policy, especially in this current era of health care reform.  I believe in access to care for all citizens, especially those who have spent so many years contributing to our society. As such, it is the social responsibility of all physicians’ to follow health care reform agendas and speak out for fair provision of health services for the elder population.  I realize the challenges in reform, but will continue to advocate for quality affordable health care for all.”