Social Impact Internships: Riley Contee (’25)

Riley Contee

My name is Riley Contee. I’m a Junior in Course 6-2, minoring in BME and Spanish. My PKG social impact internship was with Build Health International on their Medical Oxygen Team. My position involved collecting and analyzing data to create tangible metrics for
end-of-year reports and general project feedback.

The social issue motivating my work at Build Health International (BHI) is the lack of access to affordable and high-quality healthcare, particular in low and middle income countries. The oxygen team at BHI focuses on restoring oxygen plants in hospitals in these regions. The team, and organization as a whole, recognizes the essential role of medical-grade oxygen in hospitals, specifically given the rise of COVID and other respiratory diseases. BHI and the oxygen team addresses this equity issue via their Find and Fix program that involves not only repairing infrastructure but also training local staff to ensure sustainable solutions. This approach promotes healthcare equity by breaking a cycle of dependency to create continuous learning within the hospitals they collaborate with.

My internship involved analyzing data and producing metrics from BHI’s Find and Fix
program to identify areas for improvement to enhance the efficiency and collaborative aspects
of their initiatives. Through this experience, I’ve learned more about the challenges faced
globally related to healthcare equipment access and the importance of building sustainable
solutions to solve such issues. In terms of strategies for social change, BHI utilizes three main
strategies: volunteering and direct service, community organizing, and deliberative and
reflective dialogue. The Find and Fix program provides direct service at hospitals in need of
oxygen plant repairs and places an emphasis on training local staff to address the immediate
issue of equipment maintenance and to foster sustainability within a hospital’s healthcare
system. The community engaged teaching and learning is just one aspect of their sustainable
solution. Furthermore, BHI projects are created given a community’s request, need, and efforts.
For example, there is an ongoing project in Sierra Leone to build a Maternal Center. This work is
a collaboration between BHI staff and local residents looking to enhance the healthcare services
in their direct community. The community building and partnership cultivates community
organization and deliberate and intentional dialogue between BHI as an outsider organization
and locals. BHI’s commitment to collaboration and shared knowledge aligns with advocacy for
healthcare equity and systemic change.

This IAP has added to my academic and personal background in public and global health.
Since beginning at MIT, I have not explored this sector as much as I’d like to. This internship
provided an application of concepts, theories, and experiences I learned in high school, as well
as briefly touched in some HASS classes I’ve taken. This experience expanded my understanding
of the challenges faced in delivering healthcare services in resource-limited settings.
Professionally, this internship provided me with practical skills and strategies to address global
health and social issues. BHI puts a large emphasis on the deliberation of projects and
intentionality of collaborative experiences. These ideas will stick with me when attempting to
innovate and assist in the creation of human-focused technology. I completed this internship
with a greater appreciation for community driven solutions as a resolve to long-term solutions.

Overall, this internship at BHI added to my understanding of public health challenges,
provided insights into addressing them, and the importance of sustainable solutions to promote
social issues. I look forward to using what I’ve learned and applying it to the technological field I
plan to enter. Global health equity, as well as general social equity, should be the focus of all
technological advancements and innovations, given that the people aspect of all technology
should be priority.

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2024

« All Posts