National Health Corps Pittsburgh Blog

"Is there a reason we do something a certain way? What would happen if we changed our methods? Do we have the capacity to start something brand new? At the beginning of my service year, my mentor Erin mentioned to me that we had gotten some inquiries about nutrition and cooking classes for pregnant or new moms, but we didn’t have anything to offer beyond basic nutrition classes for adults. As I started to think about my capstone project for the year, that idea stuck with me. I continued to ask myself those same questions and challenged myself to build something totally new, something we hadn’t done before."
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"Recently, I attended a conference about anti-hunger initiatives. A common theme throughout the conference was about “engaging those with lived experience” — in other words, letting those who have real life experience of hunger and food insecurity speak for themselves. The Food Bank of the Southern Tier, a food bank serving the Southern Tier region of New York, has a program called the Speakers Bureau where people experiencing food insecurity and poverty are trained to share their stories. A member of the Speakers Bureau named Dawn Tallett spoke about her experience at this conference."
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"As a patient navigator, I serve persons who are underserved, underinsured, and uninsured through various innovative engagement and care management endeavors. As you may have guessed from my position title, I assist patients in navigating their journey through Pittsburgh Mercy and other community resources. This usually involves coordinating patient care with our primary care practitioners, our Hepatitis C clinic, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, hospital specialists, and the other essential internal and external support services. This person-centered team approach to managing care empowers the individuals we serve to comfortably integrate their physical and behavioral wellness services — that is, if they choose to engage."
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"Pressure — that’s the feeling I’ve had for the past several years about choosing a profession and a course of study to commit to in graduate school. Upon entering my first service program, a small Pittsburgh based one called Change A Heart, in August 2016, I had hoped to finally find the answers to the ever-present question, “What are your career plans?” which followed me throughout undergrad as I tried to navigate a journey of self-discovery. I was probably one of the most indecisive students my advisor had ever met, as she sometimes teasingly mentioned. While my indecisiveness wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I always felt a twinge of self-consciousness because of what I thought was an inability to commit to something. With high hopes, I came to Pittsburgh to find some clarity about what I should be doing with my life, which is understandable for a 22-year old moving to a city for the first time."
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"Eyes glistening with tears, the widow I was interviewing shared that her teenage son had polio. I was speechless; I always saw polio eradication as a modern public health success story. I never expected to find it while conducting interviews for my Master’s dissertation in India. Stunned, I double checked the mother’s statement with my translator, who quietly confirmed it. A brief silence followed. The mother continued, her voice breaking, adding that she couldn’t even afford basic palliative care for her son’s condition. The cost of those unattainable procedures? Ten dollars."
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"I serve as the coordinator for the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) which consists of 2 patient rooms and most other aspects of a primary care office squished into an RV. The goal of the MMU is to offer primary care services to populations who commonly struggle with access to consistent, quality healthcare. The MMU partners with a homeless shelter that has the capacity to house around 250 individuals. Through my interactions with the patients at this site, it’s evident that there are multiple barriers this population faces including reliable, consistent communication and transportation. The MMU succeeds in overcoming a number of these obstacles, but I’ve realized that addressing access is only half the battle in providing comprehensive, competent care to individuals experiencing homelessness."
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"At my host site, the Birmingham Free Clinic, the staff members and I often find ourselves saying, 'Just another day at Birmingham.' Serving at Birmingham has normalized the creative and out-of-the-box thinking that healthcare delivery frequently requires."
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"As the Maternal and Child Health Care Coordinator at the UPMC Shadyside Family Health Center (which operates within the IMPLICIT Network), my primary role is to provide ICC case management to improve maternal and infant health. When a woman screens positive for one of the four risk factors, I provide health education to motivate behavior change, address barriers, and build meaningful relationships. I frequently encounter mothers who smoke, and in those situations, I utilize the 5 A’s model for smoking counseling: ask, advise, assess, assist, and arrange."
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"During the first few weeks of service at my host site, I embarked on my first project — contacting patients who were due for their routine cancer screenings and vaccinations. I called patients on the phone to tell them that they were due for a mammogram, colonoscopy, dexa scan, or pap smear and asked them if they would like to schedule an appointment to complete the screening. In approaching outreach in this manner, many patients declined — particularly when they were due for a colonoscopy."
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"I have many fond memories from the past year, during which I pursued my Master’s Degree in Scotland. Understandably, I still miss hearing the Scottish brogue, eating haggis, and walking on the slick cobblestone streets of Old Town Edinburgh. But as I have progressed further along into my AmeriCorps service year stateside, I have increasingly grown to miss something from the UK that I never thought I would: its healthcare system."
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