Like a dry sponge, I jumped right into the world of nonprofits and soaked up every ounce of insight I didn’t know I was missing. I see the Sulzbacher Beaches Clinic advocating for individuals in the community. I see the gap my position fills to lessen the barrier in access to health services and empower individuals. I see opportunities to contribute meaningful services to the community in my position as an NHC Florida AmeriCorps member.
Every patient enters the Sulzbacher Beaches Clinic with the intent to seek medical services, but they leave with reassurance and comfort. The Sulzbacher motto is health, hope, and housing. Each patient’s housing and income needs are addressed when they enter the clinic and resources are provided to help them sustain self-sufficient lives by the time they leave. The Sulzbacher Beaches Clinic serves a variety of individuals experiencing homelessness; individuals with no other means of gaining access to medical services; and individuals that face barriers such as health literacy, transportation, and unstable housing. My host site understands that we serve vulnerable populations that require advocacy to regain self-sufficiency. Patients are seen as people first, not just a diagnosis or numeric quota that needs to be met. Staff ensures that each patient’s basic needs are met such as access to food and shelter. The needs of each patient are addressed in hopes that resources can be provided to aid individuals in gaining the tools they need to improve their quality of life.
I make an effort to embody the Sulzbacher shared quality of holistic care as a Patient Navigator. This quality reminds me to view each patient as a person seeking guidance to gain access to services; seeking reassurance; seeking tools to help them find stability in parts of their life that may not seem within reach. I advocate for the health and well-being of patients. I have two primary roles: to advocate for patient’s through enrolling them in a Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) that provides medication cost relief for patients without health insurance. My second role is to guide patients through the medical eligibility process by counseling them about their housing and income situation to help them understand what documentation is needed to gain access to medical services.
As I reflect on the training I received throughout my time in the AmeriCorps program, I concluded that I can contribute meaningful services to advocate for individuals in the community. I learned about barriers to health care, public health advocacy, and cultural competency. Then participated in Medicaid training, nutrition management, and opioid prevention. These examples of experiences I’ve had thus far expressed needs in the community and resources provided to address them.
At my own host site, I noticed that our patients required assistance to overcome the barriers of health literacy and health education. Taking this into account, I created opportunities for patients to receive application assistance for Medicaid enrollment. I encourage patients to take advantage of me as a health educator to understand their medical conditions, the medications they are taking, and nutrition-based chronic disease management techniques. I was able to start these services by attending trainings and outside service opportunities encouraged by AmeriCorps.
This is only the beginning of my journey in the NHC Florida AmeriCorps program, but I know the impact I contribute to the community is priceless. I hope I continue to understand the barriers individuals face. I hope to continue to view the community I serve with open eyes and reflect on what I can do as an advocate to help individuals overcome barriers.
This blog was written by NHC Florida member Sylvia Parram.
Sylvia serves at I.M. Sulzbacher Center as a Patient Navigator