Ending Homelessness One Person at a Time

For my term as an AmeriCorps member with National Health Corps Florida, I am serving as a Patient Navigator at the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless. My main responsibility is verifying patient eligibility in the Medical Clinic - this means that I meet with clinic patients to check into their residency status, amount of income, housing situation, and insurance coverage to determine if they are able to be seen in our clinic. In the three months that I have been serving at the Sulzbacher, I have already been able to form close relationships with our patients that have lead to helping them get access to the services that they critically need.

Foxy Branch, Senior Clinic Coordinator in the Medical Clinic, is my host site mentor. She received her Associates in Healthcare Administration, and then went on to earn certifications as both a Billing and Coding Specialist and as a Medical Assistant. Since her start at the Sulzbacher in 2014, she has held positions as Lead Medical Assistant, Clinic Coordinator, Medical Respite Technician, Senior Clinic Coordinator, and now works as the Clinic Manager. Foxy goes above and beyond everyday to help others and to embody the Sulzbacher mission: empowering homeless and at risk women, children and men through health, housing and income services thereby restoring hope and self-sufficiency.

How does Sulzbacher benefit from the various NHC FL AmeriCorps member services? 
The one-on-one interactions that the AmeriCorps members are able to provide are necessary for so many reasons: to explain our healthcare and social services in detail, to assist the patients with receiving benefits that available to them (like food stamps), to create a relationship in which they can provide referrals to resources and services that may benefit the patient, and to meet the patients where they are at so that they understand their diagnoses completely.

What is it like at the Sulzbacher when NHC FL AmeriCorps members are not present? 
The number of individuals we are able to assist would be much fewer - patients would miss out on the benefits from services and resources that they qualify for, patients would receive a lower quality of care, and patients would be less likely to comply with their recommended treatment course since the patients would likely not understand their diagnosis as fully as they do with education from our members. We simply would not have the manpower to serve our community as completely if AmeriCorps were not present to make these meaningful connections with our patients.

Have you heard anything directly from patients about the NHC FL AmeriCorps members? 
The patients we serve at the Sulzbacher are always very grateful for services provided. They frequently let us know about the information they received from the various AmeriCorps-run programs and the assistance they received from the members spearheading them. The patients have become very familiar the AmeriCorps members, and often stop by to speak to them specifically because they have already built a relationship with them and know that members are able to help them navigate whatever they come in wondering about. This is our patient’s way of saying thank you to our AmeriCorps members, and it does not go unnoticed.








This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Kelsey McKenna. 

Kelsey serves at the I.M. Sulzbacher Center as a Patient Navigator.