MD Class of 2020
Doug Wells, a second-year medical student, doesn’t believe in ignoring problems in the hopes they’ll go away. He likes to take action. So when he saw a pervasive problem in healthcare being largely ignored, he did something about it. He founded the Community Healthcare Advocacy Team for Individuals with Disabilities (CHATID) to raise awareness of the challenges that patients with disabilities face, and to improve the inequitable care that results from those barriers in the healthcare system.
“Imagine approaching a receptionist’s desk that’s so high you can’t see over it,” he said. Or arriving for a cancer screening, only to confuse staff who are unsure of how to properly lift you from your wheelchair. Or being deaf and having interpretive services that don’t speak the sign language to which you are accustomed, rendering the service virtually useless.
“These barriers are unacceptable,” Doug said. “Especially when they are encountered in healthcare.” Because his father copes with multiple sclerosis, Doug has firsthand knowledge of some of the difficulties people with disabilities face. “They just want to be treated like normal patients,” Doug said — which is why he founded CHATID.
CHATID is an advocate for improving the quality of healthcare for everyone with disabilities by expanding accessibility, effectively coordinating and making healthcare workers aware of community-based resources, and improving the efficacy of medical staff to communicate with and care for individuals with disabilities. CHATID’s goal is to provide patients with both knowledge of their healthcare rights and resources to ensure health equity, and to help physicians to understand how best to provide equal care for all using the knowledge and resources provided.
Doug also volunteers in areas other than CHATID. An avid athlete, he is co-organizer of the school’s annual “Alley-Oop for Autism” basketball tournament. And, inspired by his own “goofy, funny” childhood doc, he is community outreach chair for the school’s Pediatric Outreach Group for Students (POGS). His POGS innovation is “Mr. Rattlin’ Bones,” an entertaining lesson in anatomy the group offers to children at libraries throughout Lackawanna County.