Improving Patient Outcomes Through Trauma Informed Care

Posted on: February 21, 2023Pittsburgh
  1. Madeira is sitting in front of a brick wall.

Hi everyone! My name is Madeira J Alexander (she/her) and I am from Pittsburgh NHC. I am serving as a Patient Advocate and Navigator at Birmingham Free Clinic, a program that provides free healthcare to underserved, uninsured, and historically underrepresented populations. Birmingham Free Clinic takes a holistic approach to providing compassionate healthcare. We offer primary care services, in addition to over twenty specialty clinics. As a staff we work to help patients overcome frequent barriers to healthcare by providing transportation solutions, language translation, insurance navigation, health education, inhouse food pantry, access to feminine products, no cost lab testing, and an onsite pharmacy with free medications. The goal is to provide high quality healthcare to those in need.

As a facility, Birmingham takes a trauma informed approach to healthcare. We know that to serve our patients we must look at their entire life situation to understand the effects on their overall wellness and how we can step up to mitigate harmful consequences. Trauma informed care is a framework that emphasizes awareness, understanding, and appropriate response to the impact of trauma. The five principles of trauma informed care are: safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. Trauma informed care creates a space for patients to become empowered in their healthcare and facilitates the development of trusting relationships with our providers and staff.

As a Patient Advocate and Navigator, I get to know each of our patients and assess what challenges they might be facing in their lives that are negatively impacting their wellbeing and then determine how we can help. Each patient comes to the clinic with different experiences and life situations. We provide safety through our policies and practices, build trust through respect and rapport, maintain agency through choice in care plans, foster collaboration with transparency, and empower through education. Engaging patients has proven to yield the highest rates of successful health outcomes.

In the fall I will begin law school, with the intention of using my legal education to advocate for the protection of vulnerable populations. While I won’t be working in a healthcare setting, I will carry the lessons I have learned in trauma informed care. The experiences I have gained through my year of service will be invaluable to me as I begin my career, allowing me to be a more effective advocate and leader. I hope to always be able to serve compassionately while maintaining the dignity and autonomy of those I am helping.

About the Author:

Madeira Alexander

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Position Title: Patient Advocate and Navigator

Where are you from? 

Windsor, CT

Why did you decide to join NHC?

Host Site

Birmingham Free Clinic
2100 Jane Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Birmingham Free Clinic
2100 Jane Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203