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Inspiring Conversations with Simoine Kenya of The Healthcare Plug

Hi Simoine, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
To briefly introduce myself, my name is Simoine Kenya. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and am currently a graduate student at Meharry Medical College. I am also an aspiring physician and a mother to the coolest three-year-old on earth. I think the best way to begin this story is to describe how supernatural alignment, faithfulness, and revelation brought my purpose to life. I worked as an administrative assistant in a medical office for nearly a year before I realized that God had revealed the gap I was created to stand in. One of my primary responsibilities was to help patients arrange their follow-up care. When challenges stood in the way of that happening, I never passed up an opportunity to go the extra mile for a patient, no matter how much time it took. Over time, I realized the magnitude of the deeply ingrained health disparities in our U.S. healthcare system and how those barriers prevented Black and Brown people, specifically, from prioritizing their health. I decided that I couldn’t afford to wait until I became a physician to impact lives. I decided that there was actually a lot I could be doing right now, including becoming an advocate for Black and Brown people. Many individuals around me that couldn’t prioritize their health needs, including myself, due to having too little monetary resources, health insurance costs, and a lack of information. I didn’t think it was fair, so I stepped up with a plan to do something about it. It was time for me to assess the skills I had acquired and prepare to use them to help individuals on a much larger platform. With that, I became the founder and CEO of The Healthcare Plug. This organization is timely, necessary, and uncoincidental. This mission has felt massive since day one. Not in a way that’s overwhelming, but I learned while this organization was still in its primitive stages that this was bigger than me. It’s time for a level of change that’s been long overdue. I am extremely excited to witness this organization touch and change as many lives as it’s destined to.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Advocating for Black and Brown people has never been smooth sailing, but I am still blessed every day by the immense amount of love and support that I receive from my family, friends, and community of supporters. The biggest challenge has been funding the organization’s operation costs, which is why my team and I are doing everything we can to encourage our communities to donate and help us find other generous donors. Our services provide financial relief to countless individuals who need it now, more than ever. That’s going to take a lot of effort from all of us. (You can help THP change lives today by donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-healthcare-plug.)

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The Healthcare Plug (THP) is a platform based out of Atlanta, Georgia, that is dedicated to reshaping healthcare for our marginalized communities. We believe that this can be achieved by connecting every patient with healthcare specialists who value comprehensive care and can meet each patient’s unique needs. This platform is unique because we go beyond offering physician referrals and offer wraparound services, such as appointment scheduling, copayment assistance, help with navigating insurance plans, medical bill relief, and many other resources. We are most proud of the fact that our services are 100% FREE because we know how difficult navigating the U.S. healthcare system can be. We are passionate about eliminating as many barriers as possible so that our friends, family, and community members can get the care they deserve.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
There were countless lessons to learn from this pandemic, and we’re still learning. I think it was interesting to witness the massive shift toward hybrid workplaces, classrooms, and medical settings. It’s great that a lot of patients can safely quarantine at home and still have access to their doctors, have their prescriptions mailed to their homes, and not have to worry about transportation to doctor’s appointments. Still, being able to afford Wi-Fi, laptops, and cell phones is a luxury not everyone can afford–let alone having a “home” in the first place. So, you can guess where I’m going with this: things may get “better,” but there’s always someone in need. I also believe the pandemic has exposed weak areas in our healthcare system, one being affordability. This year has been very mentally, physically, and emotionally draining for people, and it has increased the demand for mental health services like therapy. I will admit, I have had many individuals reach out, and they are completely hopeless and discouraged by how costly a single therapy session is. Most people want someone to confide in or to help them sort through all of the things running through their minds. It takes longer to get people the help they need when it’s not affordable. Many therapists accept health insurance, but not only can that limit the number of sessions a person can have or how long their session can be, it also doesn’t help the individuals who are among the 5.4 million uninsured due to pandemic-related job loss. So, I’ve learned that intersectionality stretches beyond our identities but is also reflected in the things an individual requires. Not everyone will need just health insurance, or just a physician referral, or just a ride to the doctor’s office. A lot of people need a combination of every single service that we offer. That’s what pushes me to persevere through moments where this journey feels like a maze. It may take some time, but we can figure this out.

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Image Credits
Kaila Hairston of MignonneXO

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