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

Monday, February 12, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #49: Vincent D’Anniballe

My undergraduate experience has been full of community service opportunities that have shaped my perceptions of healthcare. Specifically, my volunteer work at Crossroad Health Center has impacted me in ways that I had not expected. As I begin to reflect, my very first day as a VIP was an unforgettable one.

Admittedly, I was intimidated by the tall task of scheduling specialty referrals. Ensuring that patients had access to transportation, that their desired clinic accepted their insurance, and that their appointment(s) aligned with their availability seemed like an undeniably difficult juggling act. However, my uncertainty became unfounded as Crossroad sparked my passion for public health. At the end of my first shift, I couldn’t wait to come back.

The reason I enjoyed being a VIP so much was that Crossroad has granted me an experience that other places hadn’t—The ability to see the immediate results of my efforts. There is no feeling like hearing that a patient is extremely grateful for my help. Indeed, more than one patient has told me that without my assistance, they probably would have never scheduled their own referral! Without a doubt, I credit the gratefulness of patients for my ability to take pride in my work as a VIP. 

While some of us take our health for granted, seeking quality care can be extremely intimidating and seemingly impossible for those who do not have adequate resources. Ultimately, the patient referral team has allowed me to empathize for people who have been marginalized and excluded by our healthcare system. Each and every shift at Crossroad, I am reminded that I hold not only the passion, but the efficacy to improve the health of others regardless of their situation. 

                                                                                                                      -- Vincent D'Anniballe

Thursday, February 1, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #48: Michael Hilvert

After having lived in Cincinnati for the past 20 years, including going to high school in Over-the-Rhine, I have always been aware of the difficulty people face in this area. While I personally have been blessed with a lot, not all people have been so fortunate. By virtue of living in such close proximity to these circumstances, I have felt a drive for several years to give back to a community which has shaped me and helped me grow in a number of ways.
For me, giving back to my community has always meant finding an occupation which allowed me to help the people around me in a very personal and hands-on fashion. As such, I am pursuing a career in medicine. As anyone pursuing this career is certainly aware, one of the most important things for entering this field is experience. That is what brought me to the VIP program at Crossroad. It allows me not only to gain useful experience, but also to begin giving back to my community.
The VIP program enables me to feel like I am making a genuine difference in the lives of many people. In a way, the responsibility of being a VIP is making sure that people get the medical care they need. Doing my part to ensure this, I have a sense of personal accomplishment and gratitude, considering how fulfilling it is to feel that I am truly making a difference. This difference is not merely confined to scheduling patients and giving reminder or follow up calls, although these are important aspects of what we do. What I feel is the biggest difference I make is in ensuring that a patient truly feels that his or her needs are being met in the best way possible. Trying to be prompt with my work, doing it with a smile and kind words, and going the extra mile for a patient is what makes this experience truly rewarding.
While this work is not always easy, it is highly rewarding by virtue of the knowledge that one is making a genuine difference in the lives of the people in the community.
                                                                                          -- Michael Hilvert                   

Friday, January 26, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #47: Lauren Houshel

I first heard about the VIP program at Crossroad from one of my good friends giving a presentation about it and she sold me instantly. Learning about not only what the VIP program did, but the huge amount of other resources Crossroad offered was amazing. I didn’t know a place like this existed!

After hearing the statistics on people living in poverty in Cincinnati, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe the amount of people, living just a couple miles away, living paycheck to paycheck and trying to balance everything life throws at them. Furthermore, trying to find adequate healthcare for all members of the family is another struggle in itself.

This is why I wanted to be a part of Crossroad. I applied for the VIP program and thankfully got the opportunity to experience it! It was a really amazing experience and continues to be. Last rotation, when I started shadowing, I remember the doctor having to personally call specialists in the area to get help for a patient that needed seen urgently. She had an insurance that wasn’t very common and there were only two possibilities in the area, neither of which accepted new patients. She was finally able to find a physician willing to see her, but by then it had taken a couple of hours on the phone. This was a great eye-opening experience to start my first rotation as I really saw how difficult and frustrating this situation would be for a patient. This is why they needed VIPs to help alleviate this burden and I was so excited to take on the challenge.

Throughout my rotation, I realized how appreciated the VIPs truly are. I spoke with so many parents that were so grateful to get help for their child and not have to worry about making the appointment. My experience as a VIP has really shown me that I really am blessed. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and accessible healthcare. I really take the bare necessities for granted sometimes. I hope to keep devoting my time and efforts to Crossroad and the underserved population in general. I have to remember that we’re all part of the same community and deserve the same opportunities and though we are far from equality, programs like this one are on the track to molding more empathetic future physicians and community members.
                                                                                                     -- Lauren Houshel 

Friday, January 19, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #46: Griffin Bates

Unlike most of the other incredible VIPs I have met during my first rotation as a VIP at the Crossroad Health Center, I had already graduated and begun a career before applying and joining the team. I spent a year and a half working for a local Aerospace company (not GE! But we did make parts for GE) in Engineering, R&D, and testing. While intriguing and scientifically challenging, I felt unfulfilled and ended up resigning this position to focus on community healthcare and chase a lifelong ambition of becoming a doctor. I met with a family friend who works in this capacity to ask advice on how to achieve my goals. The sum of her invaluable advice was to gain knowledge and get involved, with the culmination of her recommendations being to apply to the VIP program. I cannot express how lucky I am to have had that person in my life.

Being a Crossroad’s VIP has allowed me to gain experience in a modern healthcare setting while making a difference to the people in our city. It is vital for anyone with an interest in healthcare to understand how the cost of care and medicine has created a barrier to healthy living that the staff at Crossroad, and us as VIPs, work everyday to bring down just a little bit for those we serve. Every referral is not just a task to check off of a life, but also the possibility to change someone’s life. As a VIP, I have seen empowerment, relief, and genuine joy resulting from the work we do everyday.

I spent the past year looking for opportunities to get involved in healthcare and become better acquainted with healthcare today. I have yet to find an opportunity that provides such a powerful platform to learn from while also providing a frequently overlooked service to the community, as does the VIP program. When I arrived for orientation, I could not help but notice I was slightly older than most of the other VIPs in the room. But I learned very quickly how smart, dedicated, and caring each and every person in the program is. I can honestly say that I feel privileged to be a peer and coworker with every single VIP. The work the Crossroad Health Center performs, along with the amazing group of VIPs I have gotten to know, is the kind of action that the future of this and any community, and including one’s self, can be built from.
                                                                                                 -- Griffin Bates

Monday, January 8, 2018

#theVIPExperience Post #45: Nina Grau

        I applied for the Volunteer Internship Program because I was interested in using my time and talents to improve our Cincinnati community and the healthcare community while learning about the behind the scenes details of what it takes to be a successful physician and to have a successful community healthcare plan.
        When I first started as a VIP, I did not completely understand why it was necessary to have an entire team of people simply scheduling other people’s doctor’s appointments. This seemed like a simple task that every adult in our community should be capable of doing. Clearly the VIP program existed for a reason, which meant that something about Cincinnati and its residents required an intervention in healthcare assistance.
         To figure out more about why the program exists, I asked some of the other VIPs and Crossroad employees. I learned that Over the Rhine has an overwhelming number of residents that are living below the federal poverty line and do not have health insurance or regular access to reliable transportation. The Crossroad health center addresses and resolves these issues, because it accepts payment from those who do not have insurance and must pay out-of-pocket and accepts Medicare insurance plans. Other privately-run doctors’ offices will deny patients who do not have health insurance and typically will not accept the Medicare insurance plans that many of Crossroad’s patients have. This makes scheduling referral appointments at physicians’ offices outside of Crossroad very difficult, and for this reason the VIP team exists.
        It is very rewarding to serve as a patient’s “case manager” and be able to play a role in their journey from establishing care at Crossroad to assisting in scheduling their referral appointments with specialists. I have learned that there are so many barriers that make getting care for our patients very difficult. Serving as an intern in the program has helped me realize how many privileges I have and also to not assume that others have the same privileges and easily accessible care that I do.
                                                                                                                           -- Nina Grau