Ten UTMB patients were able to exercise their right to vote during the presidential election thanks to a great team of volunteers. Ruth Finkelstein, who has spearheaded bedside voting at UTMB since 1992, coordinated the bedside voting which gives patients who find themselves unexpectedly confined to a bed an opportunity to vote.
"My parents were immigrants and we lived in Washington, DC. The District of Columbia did not get to vote until 1972 and it meant so much to my parents, both naturalized citizens, to be able to vote," Finkelstein said. "That passion for having a voice in our government is deeply rooted in me, so when I started working in health care, and it occurred to me that there were patients who would not be able to vote because they were bedridden, I looked in to how to make it possible for them to vote."
The process begins with nursing who identifies eligible patients. The patient is then required to sign an affidavit which is delivered to a doctor for signature and is taken by volunteer to the Galveston County Clerk
who verifies that the patient is indeed registered. The volunteer brings the ballot to the patient and then delivers it back to the County Clerk.
"The process is cumbersome but has been appreciated by our patients. There were a total of 12 identified and 10 cast their ballots. One voter was in his early 90's and was asked who was running for president the first time he voted. His answer was Roosevelt, " Finkelstein said. "Another was a 54-year-old woman who although registered, had never voted before. Yesterday was the first time she voted. One of the patients who voted was brought to my attention by one of the housekeeping staff. It was a great team effort."
Thank you to all the volunteers who made this a success:
Dr. Catalin Jurnalov
A special thanks to the Galveston County Clerk's office for their assistance in facilitating this, specifically, Bill Sargent, chief deputy County Clerk, Susan Williams, Cindy Eddy, Renee Edgar and Rosalinda Agee.