Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Small Steps Large Difference

Referral-Directing of a patient to a medical specialist by a primary care physician. When I first started making referrals I was excited but unsure of how my services would make a difference. Since focusing on public health I rarely get one on one interactions. The public health programming is primarily is done with larger audiences. While completing referrals I felt discouraged because I wasn't helping hundreds of people in my time volunteering at Crossroad but I soon realized it wasn't about helping the masses, but making a significant difference in the underserved community of Cincinnati. A lot has changed in my summer volunteering in Over-The-Rhine, it has definitely enhanced my global perspective. The barriers that individuals in my community face with healthcare are the same of those around the world. I look forward to continue assisting individuals and finding more people involved in public health making the difference and connecting the underserved with primary care.

--Angelica Hardee

22 shifts, 86 hours

I have been volunteering at Crossroads for 22 shifts, totaling 86 hours.  It went by in the blink of an eye.  Reflecting on my first rotation at Crossroads one question seems to sum up my experience.  Being on the pre-medical track, people always ask me “what kind of a doctor do you want to be.”  A few months ago at one of our intern meetings everyone was asked that same question.  “So what kind of a doctor do you want to be,” but the next question caught all of us off guard, “why do each of you want to become a doctor?” Rarely do people ever ask why we chose to become doctors.  From my experiences of talking to and listening to other undergraduate students on the pre-medical track I have found they dream of summer homes by a lake, medical conferences on cruise ships, and a sporty car but the interns were different.  All of the interns in the room replied with an explanation of how they want to make a positive difference in another’s life.  Some dream of being an OB-GYN helping underprivileged women, while others want to be a family physician in a small town and a leader in the community, and still others explained how they love helping others and are in awe of the human body so they want to use their knowledge and passion to serve others every day in their career.  Not one person in the room said that they wanted to become a doctor for a large salary.

After that we were asked again, “what kind of a doctor do you want to be.”  We had already stated if we wanted to become a pediatrician, a surgeon, a cardiologist, an OB-GYN, and so on, but this time she did not mean what field of medicine we intend to specialize in, but what kind of a doctor we want to be.  There are doctors that live and work for the expensive house in the best part of town with the newest and most luxurious clothes and car, going on trips to tropical islands all of whom do not care about their patients.  And then there are the doctors that are genuinely concerned about their patients; those doctors who spend time listening to them and want to give the best care possible.  They became doctors so that they could make a significant positive impact on others’ lives.

Volunteering and becoming a part of the Crossroads community has helped me to learn a lot more than I expected about being a provider who makes a difference in others’ lives.  I have not only gotten the opportunity to shadow a pediatrician, but also to interact with patients in person and over the phone contacting them about their referrals to other offices and hospitals.  I still do not fully understand all of the work it takes to keep Crossroads open and helping patients, but I understand it a lot better than before I started volunteering at Crossroads.  I have been involved in various office work which helps me to appreciate the time and skills the people behind the scenes put in so that the patients’ visits go smoothly.

I love helping others and when I become a provider I will look back to my time at Crossroads, remembering how they put the patients first.  Each member of the team goes above and beyond to help the patients through the twenty-four hour emergency phone line, education, blood work testing, classes, referral and immunization reminders, and by getting to know each patient.  For now, I will continue helping out in any way I can at Crossroads to put others first and learn as much as possible so that I can be a provider that puts others first.
--Teresa Rust

The Importance of Flexibility

I was recently thinking about what I’ve learned while interning at Crossroads, and one thing that stood out to me is the amount of change that’s taken place over the past year. Everyone knows about healthcare reform, technology and patient-centered care, but I think it is something different to see change and growth unfold in practice.

One of the first projects I became involved with was to help our patients sign up for electronic access to their medical records, so that they could review their charts and schedule appointments electronically, rather than by phone or in-person. At first, this project seemed simple (although a lot of work), but turned out to be more complicated than just handing out forms and explaining the benefits of the program. Some patients did not have reliable internet access, some were disinterested and others were confused. There were follow-ups to keep track of, uncertainty whether the project could be finished by the deadline and – especially for our pediatric patients – uncertainty about who should have access to the charts, if the parents were no longer together, for example.

What I learned from this project is that the way a healthcare organization operates has to work with the circumstances of the people it serves, because each affects what patient-centered care means in an actual sense. Crossroads serves such a varied and diverse population that it’s not practical to have a single way of doing things. What seems easy to one person might not be for another.  So, while technology continues to influence the overall healthcare landscape, it’s good to remain flexible and see how technology is a means to an end, but not the end in and of itself. Crossroads has a variety of ways to communicate with our patients- whether by phone, email or face-to-face. With the tremendous growth that we have experienced during the past year, retaining this flexibility is a real benefit to our patients and was interesting to see in practice.
--Frank Womble

For and WITH Others

When looking back at this past semester as a volunteer intern at Crossroad Healthcare Center, I can’t help but think about who I am called to be as a Xavier student: a woman for others. However, over my past three years at Xavier, I have come to realize that this mission statement, men and women for others, is missing one key word: with. Thus, it should read: men and women for and with others. When participating in any form of service, it is important to recognize that your purpose is not to go and “fix” something or someone as the word for would suggest. Many professionals in the healthcare field, especially doctors, have this fix-all mentality. Unfortunately, this typically only puts a Band-Aid on the situation.

However, Crossroad Healthcare Center has allowed me to move away from being a woman for others and allowed me to become a woman with others due to the very nature of Crossroad. The Crossroad Healthcare Center was founded upon the faith-based mission to provide care that treats the whole person – body, mind and spirit – regardless of ability to pay. This approach allows patients to develop long term relationships with their medical providers resulting in better overall health. Now that I have had the opportunity to be apart of the CVIP program for multiple weeks, I am starting to see some of the same patients again for multiple followups. I love having the opportunity to follow patients progress and to celebrate the little triumphs along the way with each patient. It's rewarding to be able to see how happy patients are about their success and it's wonderful to see how each patient begins to trust the doctor more and more with each visit. Furthermore, it is humbling to see first hand each doctor turn right around and fight to earn and keep that trust.

My desire to make a difference doesn’t stem from the fact that I see someone or something that needs “fixed”. To be completely honest, I will never be able to give back what each Crossroad doctor, nurse, medical assistant, team member, and patient has given to me, but that is why I am so passionate about this type of service.  It creates a relationship where I need the members of my own community just as much as they need me, if not more.
--Dakota Kulis

How Compassion and Education can Change the World!

My initial interest in medicine was rooted in service to the community and it is that same service that continues to call me toward medicine. Particularly my experience working at Crossroad Health Center as a Volunteer Intern has solidified my desire to pursue medicine. Crossroad has taught me about the kind of provider that I would like to be. During my time at Crossroad I have been fortunate to have had many patient interactions and I have learned that medicine goes far beyond the walls of a clinic or hospital. The compassion of physicians toward their patients that I see at Crossroad is something I want to emulate. I have witnessed firsthand the safe and hopeful place that the patient-­doctor relationship can be and I believe it empowers people, it gives them strength and hope for the future. Medicine can be such an effective tool to help shape entire communities upon the basis of the simple yet powerful practice of compassion.
I have been most touched by this compassion during my time working with Pediatrics. I have learned that Pediatrics is like a mysterious puzzle in which providers must carefully assemble the pieces. Most often children cannot fully articulate what is going on with their body and it falls upon the provider to look at their patient as a whole and provide the best care possible. At Crossroad, the providers do just that and more. No matter the age of the patient they take the doctor­-patient relationship seriously.
Furthermore, what makes Crossroad so special is on top of the key base of compassion is the priority placed on educating patients about their health. I think that in order for patients to fully bring their thoughts about what they want for their body and health into fruition they must fully understand what is going on medically. There is a large difference between a patient being told what is wrong and them understanding what is wrong. This idea is especially true in Pediatrics and at Crossroad the providers teach children about health in way that not only promotes a lifetime of healthy living, but also enhances the doctor-­patient relationship by building trust.
This program has made a great impact on the way I view medicine. It has taught me that medicine is much more than prescriptions and doctor visits. At its core, medicine is a field that is dedicated to serving the community through both compassion and education and Crossroad has perfected the skill of doing both.
--Yasmeen Daher