A client came in to our Health Team office the other day, highly distressed and holding a large medical bill that was mailed to her home. She pleaded with me explaining that there was no way she could pay that much, and was confused why a routine visit at her doctor’s office would be this expensive. I told her that, given that the clinic registered her Keystone First insurance into their system, this bill likely should not have been sent to her. We later found out that her insurance had actually expired, and that she needed to re-apply for Medicaid benefits. Luckily, she goes to one of the Federally Qualified Health Centers we work with and I was able to make sure she went on their sliding scale so that she would have a much lower bill.
In the beginning of my service term as a Health Access Liaison at the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), I had plenty of moments of uncertainty and nervousness. All I wanted was for clients to be able to have everything they needed, and at the start of my term, I was scared of not having answers for them. Questions like “What if I don’t know how to help them? What if I let them down? What if there is no way out of a situation?” were always running through my mind: before answering phone calls from clients, meeting with walk-ins at our Health Team office, or giving clients any kind of news. I knew that tough situations were inevitably going to arise, but I was unsure about how I would be able to handle them.
As the year progressed and I gained more knowledge and experience at NSC, I learned to be more composed, and situations like the one I described in the beginning are now quite routine for me. However, I would not have been able to get there without the help and support of my fellow Health Corps members at NSC, my wonderful supervisor, and the rest of the amazing staff members I am so lucky to work with every day.
This isn’t to say that I no longer experience moments of doubt and uncertainty when working with clients. However, I have learned that in our line of work, these moments are a large and important part of serving clients. I recall a moment in particular where I was sitting with a client while she was waiting to be seen by the dentist, and we were discussing all of her upcoming healthcare appointments. , During the course of our conversation, we discussed some more personal aspects of the client’s life, and she ended up telling me about her deep desire to continue her education and attend college here one day. he asked me, in a bit of a distressed state, if I could help her with this goal by utilizing NSC’s resources. After attempting to provide her with some of my ideas, all I could really do in that moment was look at her and say, “I really really hope one day you will get there too. You deserve it.” And we both nodded and shared a moment of silence and mutual connection. Even though I couldn’t really help with anything in that moment beyond my realm of services, I accepted that I did what I could and that my help, however small, was still valuable.