• Baylor freshman jumps right in to help improve healthcare accessibility in Waco

    Sai Sagireddy on Baylor's campus

    Like the rest of the Class of 2024, Baylor freshman Sai Sagireddy has only been in Waco for a short time — but he’s already making a difference in his new city. Having come to Baylor from Trinidad and Tobago, Sagireddy found he needed to secure his own healthcare — and in the process, began to wonder how low-income families and the homeless could possibly afford it.

    Not content to just think about the question, Sagireddy began working to help Wacoans in need find accessible healthcare options. We spoke with Sagireddy to learn a bit more about his work:

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    What led you to start this project?
    “I was raised in Trinidad and Tobago, and here, general healthcare is free for citizens and foreigners. As I made plans to come to Baylor, I knew I’d need my own health plan and was surprised at the cost. I was left wondering, ‘How can low-income families afford this? What are the resources available to them?’ To me, these questions (and their answers!) are so important, especially considering the pandemic.

    “Eager to help, I spoke with a mentor of mine. He encouraged me to improve healthcare accessibility in my new home: Waco. So, I entered 10 weeks of scrupulous research, calls, emailing and outreach to understand the U.S. healthcare system and how it affected Waco residents. Did you know 29% of the Waco population lives below the federal poverty line? This work led me to create the Waco Low-Income Healthcare Resources Guide.”

    What does the guide contain?
    “The Waco Low-Income Healthcare Resources Guide lists over 90 medical institutions and 15 healthcare programs that cater to low-income families and disadvantaged individuals within the Waco area. It’s designed to be a vital tool for homeless and needy populations and organizations focused on serving those groups. Also, it will help homeless shelter directors inform individuals about healthcare options, student organizations, and non-profit groups focused on service, and health groups in the Waco area and beyond.”

    Who has helped along the way?
    “At the beginning of the summer, I met Ethan Lowder, a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. He is the president of Heart for the Homeless, a non-profit that aims to improve the health of the homeless through primary care and knowledge. I was able to use his expertise as a framework for this project, and he mentored me through the process.

    “I’ve partnered with Prosper Waco, Mission Waco, Baylor’s Office of External Affairs, and the Baylor Academy for Leadership Development for research and distribution purposes. Baylor faculty and staff have been instrumental in acquiring contacts, and my classmates have helped tremendously, as well. The team grows daily, and I’m so glad people see the need and want to serve.”

    Now that the guide is complete, how will it be distributed?
    “The plan is multi-layered. In a few weeks, I’ll be partnering with Prosper Waco to integrate the database within this guide into the Waco RoundTable. Then, we’ll distribute these guides digitally to organizations within the Waco community. We also plan to provide the guide at The Store on Baylor’s campus for high-need students.”

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    Sagireddy is a University Scholar with concentrations in biology, biochemistry and medical humanities. Looking forward, he aims to be part of a medical scientist training program and earn a master’s in public health. He says, “My goal is to do my part in advancing science to create new treatment plans for various diseases in medicine, while also working directly to treat patients and making healthcare accessible for everyone.”

    Sic ’em, Sai!

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