Friday, August 10, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #58: Vikranth Doppalapudi

Crossing Borders:

I've known about the VIP program since my Freshman year at Xavier. I heard about it from friends and peers who applied and joined the program back then. I decided to apply last year and got into the program. Now I've been a VIP for about half a year and its been quite the experience. Coming in, I didn't fully know what to expect from the program and so I was excited to see what the position held for me. I love my time so far as a VIP. Not only do I find it intriguing and fun, but I also consider it a crucial position at Crossroad. I get to interact directly with patients and help them schedule their referral appointments, where I often times make the difference between the patient making it to an appointment or not. For almost all of the patients I work with, healthcare is not a privilege and it is difficult for them to even schedule and reach their appointment. So, I get to be a sort of liasion between patients and their healthcare, which is a responsibility and a privilege. Furthermore, I also get to interact with Doctors, Nurse Practitioners and other VIP's and learn from them, which is also fun! As an aspiring pre-med, Crossroad is just the environment I'd want to be in.

Earlier this year in March I went on medical service trip with Xavier University to Guatemala for a week. We worked in a small clinic in Sacatepequez and provided healthcare services to the locals there. We only had a primary care physician, a pediatrician and for limited availability, a gynecologist with us. We also only had limited medical supplies with us there. So often times, patients needed a follow up, further treatment or a specialist and the health care providers would mention that fact to us students when we shadowed them. Every time, I almost instinctively wanted to refer them and wished we had something like a VIP program there patients can receive follow up care, even after we left Guatemala. It made me truly appreciate my role as a VIP and made me realize the importance of having a follow up or a referral to your primary care. A lot of the patients that we saw in Guatemala would have been helped a much more if they had access to VIP's of their own. The experience in Guatemala gave me a whole new perspective to the VIP postion. All in all, I enjoy my job as a VIP and I have a great deal of respect for it. I look forward to all the experiences the position has in store for me in the future. 
--Vikranth Doppalapudi

Monday, July 23, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #57: Kellsa Mbah

My time here as a VIP at Crossroad Health Center has been nothing short of amazing. Upon arrival here, I was a bit anxious about what was expected of me and nervous to be doing work that would be impacting people directly. I did not really know what to expect as far as the roles and dynamics at Crossroad. The VIPs before me along with my referral team leader and Kaitlyn, and staff really made my first weeks here a breeze. There was always someone to help with whatever I needed and help me understand the referral process. The anxiousness that I felt coming in quickly dissipated and I felt like I belonged here.

One of the many experiences that I love about being a VIP is being able to shadow a physician or NP. This opportunity is so beneficial especially since most of us here are going into some kind of medical profession in the future. The proximity and first-hand look at what we would potentially want to do is invaluable.

The role as a VIP I think is particularly unique because we are working in the backgrounds aiding the physicians and nurses make sure patients are being seen in as much of a timely manner as possible. We are helping solve real issues that impact the people such as insurance and finding place of care, transportation to appointments, and understanding the process that goes behind seeing physicians.

It is a very gratifying feeling being able to help others and the patients are so thankful for our help and time. For me, it is this feeling that encourages me to pursue a career in medicine. There are so many ways to make a difference in someone’s life and the community. This internship gives us the opportunity to come together to do so.

                                                                                                --Kellsa Mbah

Sunday, July 1, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #56: Amanda Schliesman

I have been volunteering as a VIP with Crossroad Health Center for nearly six months, and I continue to learn and experience something new with each week I volunteer. I have found that the only way to learn about the world of healthcare is to interact with all of its parts. I have had a lot of unique experiences, and I am grateful to be able to better understand the important roles of the primary care physician, the medical assistants, and the nurses and how the contribution of each via team effort is required for optimal patient care. It is eye-opening for me to see some of the unique challenges and barriers faced by the population Crossroad serves, however the ways in which the healthcare team members of Crossroad work to accommodate their patients’ needs is nothing short of inspiring. My experience as a VIP has tremendously enhanced my ability to understand these circumstances and barriers in this patient population, and the ways we as future healthcare professionals can adjust our delivery of care to suit the individual patient.
To work with patients as a VIP allows us to partially step into their shoes and see firsthand some of the barriers that affect their access to healthcare services.  I have had many instances of working on what initially seemed as simple referrals which would then turn out to be rather complex, multifaceted puzzles as a result of the individual circumstances of the patients. Prior to this volunteer experience, I likely would not have ever considered the influence of these circumstances on the patients’ health. These cases are often the ones that take a significant amount of time and effort to complete, but most often tend to be the ones in which the patients are the most grateful for my service toward them.  
The interactions we as VIPs have with the entire primary care medical staff is also a unique opportunity for us as future medical professionals.  It is important to learn how to effectively communicate with the entire medical team from front desk employees, to the MAs, nurses, and physicians.  As a VIP, I get to better understand the value of each and every person in the office and clinic.
The final aspect of being a VIP at Crossroad for which I am grateful is the opportunity to work in multiple settings.  I began in a rural setting with an underserved population during my first rotation, and for my second moved to an urban setting.  To see the similarities and differences between the patients of the two different regions has been a great opportunity providing me with a well-rounded experience as a VIP.  
--Amanda Schliesman

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #55: Grace Kelly

From the first semester of my freshman year I was interested in applying to be a Crossroad Volunteer Intern. A lot of my friends at Xavier were VIP’s and really enjoyed their experience, so I was excited when I applied and was accepted to be a VIP. I did not really know what to expect out of the position, but I was eager to gain experience volunteering in a health care setting. I was also so happy to be accepted as a part of the Crossroad team because of the Christian grounds that Crossroad is founded upon. I am from the Greater Cincinnati area so Crossroad is close to home which is another reason why I wanted to be a part of this program. The Cincinnati community has provided so many opportunities for me growing up and I feel grateful to have the chance to give back to the Cincinnati community through the VIP program.

One of my favorite aspects of the VIP program is the interaction we have with patients over the phone or in person. In-person referrals are not as common as contacting patients over the phone, but when I do have the chance to help a patient schedule an appointment in person I really value the interaction. Seeing the patients in person that we are to assist in scheduling appointments makes the position we have and duties we fulfill as VIP’s even more meaningful. The patients we contact over the phone or meet with in person are always so grateful for the work we do in helping to schedule their appointments and it brings me joy to be an integral part in making sure our patients receive all of the care that they need.

As a volunteer at Crossroad, I have learned that access to quality health care is never something to take for granted because it is not as easily accessible to even some in our own Cincinnati community as it is to most of us. Scheduling appointments for patients at facilities outside of Crossroad may sound like a trivial job, but it has really deepened my desire to work in the health care field after graduation because I want to continue to be an advocate for patients’ health and to have a positive impact in another’s life. I am extremely proud to be a member of the Crossroad community and would encourage anyone interested in any form of healthcare to participate in this program.

                                                                                   -- Grace Kelly

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