One of the most frustrating aspects of working in healthcare is having ideas about what to do to help people but not being able to do it. Many of the patients at Health Center 6 come in with a variety of needs that I cannot meet. As a patient advocate, my role is to help uninsured/underinsured patients obtain free or reduced cost medication. Often, when patients have questions or concerns that I can’t address, I am able to point them in the direction of someone at my health center who will be able to help them. This speaks to the value of having a place that is more than just the traditional doctor’s office many people think of. However, even with this support, there are things that we cannot help with. Many of the challenges our patients face are due to systems that need to be changed. It can feel helpless when you realize all the challenges our patients face daily.
BUT(less sad part now) one thing AmeriCorps has taught me is that even doing seemingly small things to help people matters.While I may not be able to get a patient who is uninsured their osteoporosis medication for free, I might be able to save them $50-$100 for the year that they might have to pay otherwise. For a patient who has insurance, I may be able to get them a medication that their insurance doesn’t cover. I’m also able to navigate this process for them, reducing in a small way the number of things on their plate. Reducing a person’s stress about their daily needs has been shown to improve their physical, emotional, and mental capacity, allowing them to live a healthier life. I know that my service does not solve all of a person’s life concerns, and that can be frustrating. However, I am able to be kind and help with one piece of their healthcare, and that in itself is powerful.
Image description: A photo depicting the ways that stress affects the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune system.