National Health Corps Pittsburgh Blog

"One of the questions all applicants to NHC Pittsburgh are asked is “what does service mean to you.” Before I began my first service term in 2016, I thought I knew what service was. I had volunteered with various organizations in various capacities throughout high school and college. I had dedicated both time and money to causes whose mission I supported. But when you are completing a full-time service year with AmeriCorps, service begins to take on a different meaning."
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"I had no idea what to expect when I moved to Pittsburgh last August to begin my year of service. I was nervous, yet excited to be living in a new city where I knew hardly anyone. The first few days of orientation were jam-packed with information. We were given a crash course on AmeriCorps and the duties of National Health Corps members. Our director, Beci, stressed the importance of using each other for support and collaboration throughout the year. I recall looking around the room at all the new faces, and feeling unsure if this group of strangers would all get along."
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"High blood pressure (HBP) is one of the most significant chronic disease issues that we face today from a public health perspective. It is an incredibly common condition with more than 1 out of every 3 adults having a diagnosis. If you don’t have high blood pressure, chances are that you have friends or family members who do. Despite this near universality (or perhaps because of it), there is often a lack of understanding on what HBP is, what its consequences are, and how it can be properly managed."
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"In 2017, 4,400 individuals spent 19,600 hours volunteering at my host site, Global Links. During that time, thousands of boxes of medical materials were packed, hundreds of crutches, canes, and wheelchairs were prepared for new owners, tons of scrubs were assessed and sorted, and countless laughs and smiles were shared by the volunteers at Global Links."
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"The primary care providers that I have interacted with this year are determined and passionate about helping their patients. The fact is, providers often have limited time and capacity to provide these essential services alone. Fortunately, there are numerous, committed healthcare team members that do an incredible job of providing holistic care to patients."
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"I distinctly recall Katie coming to our office in a frenzy on a Tuesday afternoon about two hours prior to Suboxone clinic starting. She had just been stripped of her purse, keys, and wallet on the bus. But instead of immediately filing a police report, she came to us because she was worried she would miss her scheduled appointment and thus not receive her weekly Suboxone strips. I believe it was this fierce determination and willingness to ask for help that helped Katie turn her life around for the better."
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"I understood that the process of applying for public benefits could be frustrating and lengthy but I had no first-hand experience. I think the most humbling part of the process was knowing that a group of intelligent, college-educated adults still needed help navigating the system. It made me wonder how people who don’t have any guidance fare when they navigate the application process themselves."
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"A couple of weekends ago, I witnessed another type of collaboration within the healthcare field. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Free Clinic Association of Pennsylvania’s (FCAP) annual conference in Harrisburg. One of the more notable conversations was centered around pain management without the use of opioids."
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"Serving a year with Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center (PMFHC) has allowed me to further explore how preventative care, including consistent health education and screenings, can effectively combat health care disparities long-term. However, I quickly learned that this issue is incredibly complex and not resolved solely through clinical practices."
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"I serve as an intermediary support for schools in assessing their sites, creating action plans to set goals towards complying with their wellness policies, and connecting them to resources to meet their Healthy Schools Programmatic goals. Each school and school district is different and varies in engagement with CHP; however, Penn Hills Schools District (PHSD) has become increasingly engaged as a district since the start of our partnership last fall."
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