Tuesday, April 4, 2023

#theVIPexperience Post #198: Nicole Ntim


    "During my senior year of high school, I was educated on the equity problems in healthcare. One of my STEM teachers introduced the equity problem that had been going on in our healthcare systems for so long. It bothered me so much that people were being treated differently based on their ethnicities and races, a factor that simply cannot be controlled. From there, I was interested in doing my own research. I soon learned about the disproportionate statistics in treatment and care found in minority groups. Even diagnosing darker skin patients with diseases, such as skin cancer, go undetected since darker skin tones aren't found in medical books. I realized that diversity is seen as an impediment for proper treatment in the healthcare world. At the end of my high school STEM course, we were given a project to create an innovative medical device. I decided to make a presentation showing how poorly minorities are treatment in healthcare along with the innovate medical device of a healthcare book that shows diseases and illness on a vast range of skin tones. The project helped me realized that there are so many underrepresented people whose needs aren't met because they aren't being seen nor heard. To combat this problem, we need more representation. Our communities need to take a dive deeper into healthcare and play their parts to see a change. It has become so important for me to pursue a career in the medical field to lead as representation for the minority communities. As a Ghanaian-American myself, I know that I don't typically see many Ghanaian healthcare workers.

    After spending my first year of college heavily involved in the African American Cultural Resource Center I decided to steer into a direction where I can focus on healthcare. I applied for the CVIP position after hearing about it from my peers. I was soo accepted and excelled from there. As a CVIP, I love the interaction that I am able to receive from patients. I also love being able to volunteer for an underserved community because it's the small steps like these that help grow our communities. Every conversation I have with a patient, every joyful response I hear, and every health center that I call has been refreshing. I love being able to help others. It's also so beautiful to see the love that each Crossroads employee has for one another. They're always so sweet and helpful. Crossroads Health Center is a wonderful place where diversity is promoted and accepted. It's a place where each minority is treated with care and respected, a place where values are upheld, and everyone is welcomed."

#theVIPexperience Post #197: Stephanie Garcia


    "When entering the Crossroad Volunteer Internship Program, it was very eye-opening and welcoming. It was eye-opening because Crossroad tackles helping people within and outside of the community that struggles with getting proper healthcare. They provide offices like a pharmacy, clinic, and dentist for their patients. Not only that, but Crossroad takes in a lot of patients that do not have insurance at an affordable price, which is one of the things that I love about Crossroad, and made me feel welcomed. As for someone lucky to have annual checkups, my parents back in their home country were not so lucky. Clinics and hospitals were so far away from where they were from, and they had to resort to home remedies or use whatever they could find to treat their wounds, even if they had to put sand and soil on their wounds. Looking back at my parents' struggles, I always wanted something like or similar to Crossroad to exist at the time of my parents' medical struggles. Having my parents' struggles in mind, I appreciate all the hard work Crossroad had done for the patients.

    Crossroad made me feel welcome because the patients I call and interact with over the phone have a similar situation that my family and I have been through in the US healthcare system. Not only that but as a VIP that knows Spanish fluently, I'm able to help lots of Spanish speakers due to the language barrier they have with English. I know Spanish is not the only language barrier that patients experience, but the staff at Crossroad are there to help patients that are non-English speakers, lack transportation, and have no insurance. Working as a VIP, I'm able to help bridge the connection between the patients with either their provider or physician. Knowing that the little interactions that we, VIPs, have with patients are huge help for them in the long run, especially with patients that have not experience the best healthcare in their past. Something I have learned that I wish I knew was that Crossroad can help with transportation. As a VIP, we help schedule patients' transportation so they can arrive at their appointment. A clinic like Crossroad provides these resources and has the opportunity to have programs like the Volunteer Internship Program all are trying to make a difference in everyone's lives so they can have the best care that they need to live a long healthy life. I am grateful for being a VIP so I can see the providers' point of view in a clinical setting in a patient-provider relationship. Furthermore, I will take everything that i have learned and incorporate my experience into my future medical journey."

Thursday, March 23, 2023

#theVIPexperience Post #196: Akansha Khadka

    "I come from an underprivileged and a 3rd-world country that has been developing, struggling for decades over social and political issues. The nation's instability hindered proper healthcare, social mobility and comprised education, to name a few. A generation before mine, girls were fortunate enough to go to school, abandoning farm work or heck, working day and night to attend a couple hours of school. The refugee camps of Nepal witnessed un-ending poverty cycles, famine, seeking out intense labor jobs to provide for the family, and lack of basic healthcare. In my own family, I have lived through my grandparents face the hardships of losing their sons in a rural area with no hospitals nearby. Within minutes, my uncle had died with an unexplainable ear pain. The closest hospital was 50 minutes away, hidden behind the hills and roads less taken. He was 6 years old, the other one, 13. They had lost two songs and the social disability they felt was a separate concern. Ever since 5, I continued to have seen all kinds of social determinants of health and it shaped people's lives forever. There were floods, fire destroying bamboo-built residences, and countless deaths. One in particular, I remember a 7-year-old boy lying dead, washed away by the flood. His lungs were filled with fluids, he appeared blue. It must've been several hours. You could hear the mother's cry for hours till dawn. The helplessness, lack of resources and treatments or diagnosis of diseases are still prevalent in millions of people. I knew I wanted to go up to help this cause. Most specifically, when I cam to America, I knew I could dream big and work for them. I could help people and their conditions. There are other struggling nations, and refugee camps. I wanted to go around with the UN- setting up base camps and reaching as many people as I could. These would be the once-a-month visits patients would have to wait for back home.

    I am passionate, kind, curious, hardworking, and a caring personality. I knew what I wanted, what to do, whom to contact, when, how to get started early and how to seek these opportunities or further aid. These are the traits and skills I have used for all my experiences. When it comes to healthcare, I want to give it my all and have been. When I heard about Crossroad, I knew I wanted to work with patients who are limited in opportunities and face health disparities. Patients that face the most disparities are often the ones with higher rates/risk of chronic diseases and mortality. I wanted to make Crossroad a crucial part of my undergraduate years. It has allowed me to gain clinical exposure, interact with patients, help with their needs and work with them post their appointments. This was the first time I dealt with patient referrals, insurance companies and scheduling transportation. 

    The experience truly allowed me to think about ways the elderly, minority, and the disabled population experience these disparities. Whether it be language barriers, transportation, age, socioeconomic status, insurance, lack of living assistance or family, whatever the patient was dealing with on the other end of the phone call, they were happy we were part of the process. The work I did left me with joy as I recall my mother doing the same work for my sick grandparents who had several conditions. I am aware of the tedious phone calls, doctor appointments, regular checkups, and the strength it takes to do this. This is crucial especially when you are old and sick, needing to seek out medical professionals. You need aid, reminders, ways to get proper attention and care. I am lucky to have the opportunity to assist every individual. These are exposures, lessons, and skills I will always need throughout my journey. One way to sum up this experience has been 'fulfilling.' I had patients so grateful, thanking me countless times over the phone. It's been eye-opening in terms of witnessing behind the scenes the healthcare in gentrified areas, more specially, cities in America. I have retained a lot, learned important skills, worked professionally trying to help incoming VIPs. I know the work will continue and there will be amazing future VIPs. Never forget why you are here and remember that you are making an impact."

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

#theVIPexperience Post #195: Sofia Stitz


    "When I first heard about the Crossroad Volunteer Internship Program, I knew right away that it was something I wanted to make a part of my undergraduate experience as a pre-medical student at the University of Cincinnati. I am an out of state student, so was eagerly looking for a way to get involved and give back to the Cincinnati community. I knew the Crossroad Volunteer Internship program would be a way for me to both give back to the Cincinnati community along with gain experience within in a clinical setting. As aspect of medicine which you are not frequently exposed to as a pre-medical student is what happens in the follow up after the patient's initial appointment. In general when shadowing a physician, you frequently are only exposed to the patient and their diagnosis in the room at the moment. Prior to volunteering at Crossroad Health Center, I never understood exactly what happened after the patient left the room regarding insurance and referral appointments, especially with patients of which are either uninsured or from low-income households. With that being said, being a Volunteer Intern at Crossroad Health Center taught me how to scheduled referral appointments, deal with insurance, and help make healthcare as accessible as possible to all patients who need care.

    The population at Crossroad Health Center makes volunteering an extremely heart warming and special experience. I am grateful to have the ability to help those from low-income populations have the most accessibility to healthcare. As a VIP, I have had opportunities to scheduled referral appointments for patients, schedule transportation to appointments for patients, and assist patients with finding alternative offices which accept their insurance plans. Not only have I learned the 'behind the scenes' of healthcare, but I have also learned many new medical terminology and conditions from patient charts and files. Overall, my time as a VIP at Crossroad Health Center has been extremely fulfilling, and I am looking forward to my future semesters!"

#theVIPexperience Post #194: Dahlia Losey

    "When I first heard about the Crossroad Health Center internship opportunity, I grew very interested and sought out more information. I read up on the center's history and became heavily inspired by the roots of the healthcare center and its foundation. It was interesting to see how casual neighbor relationships developed into a greater discovery of healthcare needs and ultimately led to the development of Crossroad's first clinic. The first clinic relied mostly on volunteer work, and for Crossroad to continue welcoming volunteers really connects the present with the past and the initial mission of the founders. By joining, I knew that I would be able to reflect and fulfill this original mission by developing relationships with patients and not only recognizing the healthcare needs, but also being a part of a solution to those needs. I wanted to see this side of healthcare that is often left undiscussed in education, and while doing so, I wanted to be a person that each patient could confide in and have a voice with. I feel that I have accomplished this so far in my experience as a volunteer intern.

    Being able to see this view of healthcare and the various barriers that a person encounters upon seeking care has changed my outlook. I was surprised that something that is seemingly so simple for me, like scheduling an appointment, can cause great difficulties for another person. If a person is unable to eliminate these barriers in seeking healthcare, more issues beyond physical healthcare can arise and affect other aspects of that person's life. I never consciously considered these barriers and their consequences prior, but I feel that I have learned so much through being a VIP, and I feel more empowered to be a part of the force making access to healthcare easier for each person. I like that being a VIP has allowed me to make positive changes for each patient, which has allowed m to be a part of this force and solution so soon in life. Additionally, I have also grown more comfortable speaking and interacting with professionals and patients, which will be useful in my future. Having this experience as one of my first healthcare-related experiences has been valuable, because I can take the information that I have learned with me throughout the rest of my academic and healthcare paths. It will allow me to be more aware and more considerate of a person's situation. This position is constantly strengthening my empathetic side and allowing me to practice patience, proactivity, and compassion every day."

Monday, March 20, 2023

#theVIPexperience Post #192: Makayla Wright

     "My VIP experience has definitely changed my perspective of health care. Before becoming a VIP, I had very limited knowledge about the inter-workings of healthcare, especially with regard to insurance and referrals. I am really grateful for my experience in this program because not only am I simply exposed to being in a clinical setting, but I get to interact with patients, and learn more about the various aspects of health care. 

    My favorite part about being a VIP--aside from being able to talk with patients--is probably the exposure to different medical conditions. As an undergraduate student majoring in neuroscience, I haven't had that much education related to medicine. But, as a VIP, I am exposed to reading about a variety of medical conditions in a range of different specialties. Anytime I read about a condition in a patient's chart that I have never heard about before, I get super excited looking up to learn more about it. It's also really eye-opening to learn about a patient's condition in addition to any other difficulties they are experiencing in their life. Because of this, being a VIP has showed me a glimpse of the different adversities that can be experiences by low-income patients.

    A really unique aspect about Crossroad is the underserved patient population that it provides for. Crossroad Health Care works to break down health care barriers that tend to negatively impact low-income patients. More specifically, Crossroad emphasizes that aspects such as insurance and language will not prevent them from giving patients the care they need and deserve. Being a part of this frame of mind has been really rewarding, as I have learned so much about various health care barriers--and how those barriers can't be broken down. To provide care for patients regardless of their insurance, Crossroad doesn't reject patient that don't have health care, and has payment plans in place to help patients with the financial aspect of their care. Additionally, VIPs with experience speaking other languages receive additional training to help speak with non-English speaking patients. Even more empowering, VIPs are also trained to use translating services to be able to communicate with all patients regardless of language barriers. 

    While I am still learning about the insurance and referral aspect with the health care system, I have learned the significance of referrals when it comes to specialized care, as well as the importance of going to scheduled appointments. I have learned how not showing up to appointments can prevent patients from scheduling appointments in the future, and that offices can dismiss patients based off of other specific circumstances.

    It's crazy to think that I randomly decided to apply to Crossroad on a whim after briefly reading about the program. I was nervous and the added commitment with everything else going on in my life, but I couldn't be happier with my choice to be a VIP at Crossroad Health Center."

#theVIPexperience Post #193: Weston Gaskins

     "Participating in the healthcare experience at Crossroad Health Center has considerably impacted my understanding of how accessible healthcare is to many patients. When first hearing of the Crossroad Volunteer Internship Program, I was intrigued as this was a unique opportunity for me. I have worked as a PCA, but I worked in an emergency department, so I hoped that working in a non-emergent health center would provide new experiences where I could have more deliberate interactions and learn the intricacies of the logical side of healthcare.

    Early in my time as a volunteer here at Crossroad, I had a tremendously positive experience. The staff and other volunteers were very patient and welcoming to new faces and went out of their way to help me and the other new volunteers succeed in our roles. Those who helped to train me empowered me to be confident in calling patients, doctor's offices, and insurance companies which then translated to helping me solve problems that arose throughout my shifts.

    As for my experience with making calls to schedule appointments and deliver reminders to patients, I was quite surprised with the difficulty associated with what would seem like straight forward tasks. While delivering reminder calls, patients would have to cancel and reschedule appointments due to various unavoidable conflicts. While scheduling appointments, they would have to be scheduled out weeks in advance to work with the schedule of the overbooked offices and the inflexible work schedule of the patient. Trying to find new referrals provided barriers because offices would reject new patients, or insurances would be unavailable to provide transportation to scheduled visits. Everyday, there was always some kind of barrier that prevented the patients from getting their needs met and seeing a healthcare professional for their problems.

    It is no secret that there are many barriers to healthcare, but seeing these barriers in action and being the person tasked with combating these barriers is an awakening experience. Difficulties in receiving healthcare extend beyond the scope of the healthcare system and into the scope of the surrounding community. It is this reason why the more time I spend at Crossroad, the more I believe it is essential to create communities with strong foundations. Communities where it is safe and accessible to receive assistance in childcare, where employers are understanding and allow time off for healthcare needs, where transportation is affordable and accessible, and where housing in safe and affordable for places to recover. The healthcare system is ever evolving and constantly working to improve the outcomes of patients, but the foundations of communities also need to be supported to help improve the health are outcomes of those who live there."