When I applied to be an intern last summer, I knew Crossroad Health Center was an incredible place. Here in Cincinnati, Crossroad serves over 11,000 patients who struggle to access affordable healthcare—regardless of their ability to pay. As a nursing student who is passionate about public and global health, I was excited to be teaming with providers at Crossroad to continue their work in our city.
At that time, I still didn't fully know how much this internship would affect me. I was ready to learn about the referral process, how to make phone calls to patients, how request records from/fax documents to offices, and how to document in the electronic health record. I was ready to be learning about how a federally-qualified health care center runs, ready to meet patients in the office, and ready to schedule as many appointments as possible.
But I hadn't really prepared myself to hear all the stories of the patients here. To talk about their experiences, their struggles, their challenges, their life stories. During brief phone calls or while scheduling appointments in-person, there is time to listen and simply talk about life. While I perform my tasks as a volunteer (or VIPs as we're called around here!) such as looking up providers who are in network or waiting on hold, talking to the patients is a part of every shift.
I have listened to a homeless man talk with joy about his jobs and his dream to have his own apartment one day. Heard a single mother worry about balancing her family and her multiple part-time jobs. Discussed bus lines and transportation issues with a young woman trying to find a job. Listened to a man's fears about losing his job after his recurrent seizures. In between the phone calls and documentation, there are opportunities to hear their stories.
As interns we are focused on handling referrals and scheduling appointments. During shifts it is easy to forget that our patients are people, each with individual stories, backgrounds, and challenges. It is an honor to partner with them and to help ease a burden. By completing a simple, yet time-consuming task, you say, "you matter, your stories matter."
Looking back over the past six months at Crossroad, I am so grateful for theopportunities I have had. I have gained experience working here and been able to communicate directly with patients every shift—a rewarding job. Most of all though, I am grateful for the stories I have been able to hear. As I partner with these patients, they open up about their lives, and thus open up my eyes to theoften overlooked challenges and joys of their lives.
-- Rachel Haney
-- Rachel Haney