Once a former standout women’s basketball star at Western New Mexico University, Pamela Beal was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in her senior year of college. It ended her hoop dreams, and nearly her life. Now, the Louisiana native pays it forward through a career in health care.
Thanks to a donation from her husband, a kidney transplant followed in 2000. Five years later an unexpected case of toxicity necessitated a second transplant — this time, the donor was her husband’s cousin.
“My success owes to early identification of the kidney disease, getting the care I needed and having the resources,” Beal says. “I had a lot of options. During both my first and second kidney transplants I received great care. I also had the resources and family support, which allowed me to take off work for two to three months."
“Most people don’t have those options, and I’d like to do what I can to try and change that.”
For the past 20 years, Beal has specialized in improving health care services to hard-to-reach and high-risk populations. As part of her duties as associate dean of clinical affairs, Beal oversees the UNLV Medicine Ackerman Autism Center and the UNLV School of Medicine’s Community Health Worker program – an integral part of all of the UNLV Medicine clinics.
The community health worker agency is the first of its kind in the Nevada. The agency consists of community liaisons trained to help at-risks populations access health care by helping people sign up for health insurance, answering their questions related to health insurance and connecting them to a wide range of social services.
“We can make a difference,” Beal says. “We can literally make a difference every single day. I’m a living witness. I’m a beneficiary. I have a high quality of life and I’m very productive.
“I even still play a little basketball.”