Monday, April 16, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #54: Azl Saeed

Often, when we think about a community in need, our minds immediately go to a location far away. We jump to thinking about faraway places, like underdeveloped nations, and fail to realize that communities in need are closer than we realize. Having lived in Cincinnati for my entire life, I was completely ignorant to the fact that there are people without resources to things as fundamental as healthcare in my own backyard.

When I first heard about Crossroad through a friend of mine who was a VIP at the time, I was intrigued. Healthcare is something that I was passionate and wanted a future career in, but I never even considered the lack there of for so many individuals, especially so close to home. After learning more about the program and the work that I would be doing as a volunteer intern, I was hooked in and knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of.

Since joining the VIP program, I can say that I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities that I have had thus far. Being able to work as a VIP gives me the unique chance to serve as a bridge between the patients here at Crossroad and the healthcare that they need and deserve. What I value the most about this experience is that it reinforces the idea that serving a community is something that is done in solidarity with the community and not for the community.

For many volunteer opportunities, the work is centered around “helping” a group of people. In my mind, this idea is problematic because it implies that those who are helping are better than those being helped. Here at Crossroad, this idea of simply “helping” the community is not present. Instead, we are all working towards the same goal of adequate resources and healthcare for all, regardless of external factors that often get in the way. This mission is something that I strongly stand by and I’m thankful to work with an organization that promotes it.

I believe that because of my experience here at Crossroad, my future in healthcare will be shaped by a different perspective that I had the chance to acquire during my time here.

                                                                                                               -- Azl Saeed

Friday, March 30, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #53: Molly Macleod

All of the Thank You’s

The biggest thing that I have learned at Crossroad is that the gratitude of others makes the work that I do worth it.

A typical shift at Crossroad consists of a lot of phone calls. There is time spent leaving voice messages, many minutes listening to the fantastic music of the scheduling center hold lines, and, every so often, a conversation with a patient. And in every single one of those conversations, the patients have always said thank you multiple times; every single one has been grateful for the work that I am doing.

At first, their thank you’s confused me. All I was doing was making phone calls: talking to them, to the scheduling centers, and to our office. The things I did, were never monumental. Sometimes, my calls only confirmed that they had already scheduled an appointment, and did not even need our help. But yet so many times, the patients expressed their gratitude and showed true appreciation for what I was doing.

As I continued to volunteer at Crossroad however, I have begun to understand exactly why the patients are so grateful. Each person is grateful, because through my work as a VIP, I have helped them to become more healthy, more empowered, and more capable in their own health care journey.

So many of the people I call are busy. They have so many commitments and other important things going on, that health care isn’t a priority-it doesn’t have time to be. So when the moments when I happen to call someone, maybe driving or in the middle of a task, they often realize that they had completely forgotten about their referral or the next steps in their health care process or that they simply due not have time to spend making phone calls and waiting on other people. So when I offer my support and my help, it is appreciated. For some people, a call from a VIP allows them to obtain the health care that they need.

Another feeling that the patients I call experience is frustration. Our healthcare system is complicated and difficult. Because of that, numerous patients have spent hours making calls and trying to navigate the system. A call from a VIP though, shows that they patient is not alone, and that we are there to help them through the process.

Ultimately, the patients that I help are those who face numerous barriers in their access to health care. Some barriers are physical, such as transportation, insurance, or monetary issues. Other barriers, while not as obvious, still take effort to overcome. Not everyone recognizes these barriers, I’m not sure I did before this year. The patients who face them however, know how hard it can be. It is these patients that can see the effect of what you are doing. They know the impact a phone call can have and they are grateful for the work that we are doing.

Hearing this appreciation and gratitude makes the phone calls and time on hold worth it. Each conversation I have with a patient shows exactly how I am making a difference in their lives every single day.

                                                                                                    -- Molly Macleod

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #52: Franny Nazzarine

Community, Compassion, Camaraderie 

These are the words that instantly come to mind when I think about my experience as a member of the Volunteer Intern Program at Crossroad Health Center in Over the Rhine. 

I have been fortunate enough to work as a VIP for almost a year. I began with an optimistic but limited attitude, hoping to help a few patients and maybe make a few friends along the way. However, I came to find that the VIP experience exceeded my expectations in every way. I not only discovered amazing new friends I will keep for a lifetime, I found a sense of fulfillment when I saw what my contribution was making to the individual lives of our patients and the community as a whole. 

This, among many other things, is what inspired me to select these 3 words to describe my experience. 

Community - Crossroads is an establishment dedicated to helping one's neighbor in need. Its staff members go above and beyond to assist struggling members of our community in every way possible. Offering affordable health care and helping patients with limited experience schedule appointments and receive adequate transportation plays a huge part in the evolution of OTR.

Compassion - Each and every Crossroads team member, both employee and volunteer, approaches each case with empathy, understanding, and a genuine desire to help. One of the biggest reward I've found as a VIP is a patient thanking me for their amazing service and the patience and kindness they received throughout their time at Crossroads.

Camaraderie - The VIP program is one of friendship and teamwork. Looking back at my experience, the part I enjoyed the most throughout my time at Crossroads was meeting and befriending the other VIPs. They are amazing, selfless, dedicated individuals who I am lucky to call my friends.
Overall, being a VIP has been a wonderful experience in my life, and I am a better person for having participated! :)    

                                                                                                                    - Franny Nazzarine

Monday, March 12, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #51: Harsh Patel

Volunteering at Crossroad Health Center is a unique opportunity for any student that’s thinking about a career in the medical field. This internship program allows the interns to communicate directly with the patients and work with them while impacting their health outcomes. The interns help schedule specialty referrals for the patients and also help overcome other barriers like transportation and financial aid. It also allows us to advocate for our patients, as we will eventually have to learn as a provider. 

I am really interested in rural medicine and practicing in medically underserved areas. Before Crossroad, I never thought about an inner city population being medically underserved and the different variables they face when it comes to getting adequate preventative healthcare and access to a primary physician. Once, we couldn’t get in touch with a patient to help him schedule a crucial surgery because his phone was cut off and he couldn’t afford to pay the bill until he got paid. I never thought communicating with a patient as a barrier until I experienced this situation. As interns, I feel like we are a crucial part of patient’s healthcare and we try our best to make every effort to schedule and remind them of their appointments so that’s one less thing they have to worry about. Mostly, patients are really appreciative of our service and some times they can’t thank us enough for our work.

The Crossroad experience is invaluable as it exposes you to a different side of medicine that you may not see just by shadowing doctors in a big hospital or a PCP in a suburban clinic. This hands-on experience is gratifying as you are truly helping patients and making a difference in their healthcare. At the same time you are learning their stories and their individual hardships. I have personally gained a lot from this internship, which will help me become a better physician. I see myself serving in areas similar to OTR in my future.

                                                                                                     -- Harsh Patel

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #50: Mykia Lee

        Growing up I had many friends who never missed school to attend doctor’s appointments. As I grew older, I realized that this was because many of their parents could not afford for them to see a doctor, or they didn’t have have any medical insurance at all. Being from this type of environment has more than inspired me to want to help those in underserved communities who experience the same issues with healthcare. This is why I wanted to join the Crossroad family as a VIP.
            When I first began at Crossroad and found out that I would be scheduling patients for their appointments, I did not understand how I would be helping them. Essentially, I just knew that I was going to be the middle woman between the patient and the doctor’s office. However, now that I am in my second rotation here, I know that my responsibility as a VIP carries so much more weight than I originally thought.
            Without the work that I do as a VIP, many of the patients who have received referrals from the Crossroad physicians, would not see the necessary specialists trained to improve their health.  Calling these patients and ensuring them that I will do everything in my power to make sure that they are scheduled for their appointment, goes a long way. Some of the patients are too busy, stressed or lack the financial ability to see specialists, but I am able to help with all of those things. This is very rewarding to me because I know that by my actions as a VIP, I may be saving a patient life in the long term.
            Being a VIP is a long commitment but the experience is definitely worth it! It reminds me every day to be humble and appreciative of my health as well as the privilege that I have to be able to serve Crossroad’s patients.

                                                                                                             -- Mykia Lee