Beyond clinic walls - Building a network in the Jacksonville community

Posted on: April 18, 2022Florida

During my time in the National Health Corps (NHC), I have been serving as a patient navigator at the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, Florida. Sulzbacher is a Federally Qualified Health Center located in downtown Jacksonville that primarily serves people experiencing homelessness and others who are uninsured. My primary responsibility at Sulzbacher is to enroll approximately 700 patients in various Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), bringing in over one million dollars in free medications annually. The range of medications is vast, spanning from colcrys (a medication for gout), to insulins, to antipsychotic injections (about 3,000 dollars each). Without PAP, patients wouldn’t have access to these medications that are necessary for their treatment. I have found it incredibly rewarding to be part of a patient’s medical care and ensure that they receive the medication they need.

Outside of my host site, I have also been volunteering at the New American Welcome Center (NAWC), a community center where another NHC member serves. Every week we help immigrants study for their U.S. citizenship test and while doing so, I have formed relationships with the students and staff. We soon identified students that were in need of medical services, and I began assisting in setting them up to receive care at the Sulzbacher Center. It is here I truly became a navigational tool between the patient and their health care services. I brought patient packets with me to NAWC so they could be returned to the clinic completed and have the first appointment scheduled without the patient needing to travel to the clinic an extra time. For a Cuban couple I created a map and detailed instructions in Spanish on how to find the clinic and where the entrance was. I provided them with my contact information so they could call me when they arrived for their first appointment. I went out and greeted them, showed them where to safely park, and led them into the clinic where they signed in on the kiosk – a necessary step so that the front desk knows they are there. I connected another NAWC student from Afghanistan to medical care at Sulzbacher to address her chronic stomach pain. I shared in her excitement when she went into the exam room; and in her happiness when she told me all her blood work came back normal!

She also tells me she wants her kids to play soccer. But they cannot afford to play in a league and with low English proficiency she doesn’t know how to get them involved. So, I turn to my pickup soccer teammates and ask around to see if anyone knows of free soccer for kids. I am directed to Coastal Kicks Soccer which has scholarship programs for players. After explaining the situation to the director, we were able to provide full scholarships and uniforms for both kids. It was meaningful to see how the communities I have become a part of in Jacksonville have come together to provide the opportunity for these children to have access to playing soccer.

I have come to realize that providing access to healthcare is much more complex than I assumed. You can build the best free clinic in the world but if patients don’t know where to look, don’t have time off work to go, or don’t have access to transportation, or even if they just get overwhelmed walking through the doors, uncertain of what to do next – especially if they don’t speak English – then that free clinic becomes less accessible. In creating a broader network and building connections with other organizations spanning outside of the clinic, we are able to begin to tackle some of these barriers and serve patients more intimately on bettering their health and wellbeing.


About the Author:

Camille Marshall

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Educational background: B.A. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Whitman College

Host Site: The Sulzbacher Center Pharmacy

Host Site

611 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
611 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL 32202