More Than a Medical Home
When most people think of the home, they think of warmth, safety, and security. It is where the sensory and the experience consolidate into most of our lifelong memories. From our first steps as an infant to our last steps across the threshold as we march into adulthood, the moments we make in the home are deeply etched into the walls. It happens to such an extent that the physical structure itself begins to serve merely as scaffolding. The memories themselves take residence within us so that as we age and adapt, their keepsake reminds us of where we’ve been and what we’ve learned along the way. I have found that having a place like this or even the metaphysical presence of a home, where one feels supported and valued, is integral to fostering positive outcomes especially during the rollercoaster that is adolescence. For this reason, creating a safe space for patients is of the highest priority at my host site. So much so, it has become our namesake.
My host site refers to itself as a “Medical Home”. This term is used to describe a type of comprehensive primary care from a multidisciplinary healthcare team. This medical home, or as the community knows it best, JaxHATS (Jacksonville Health and Transition Services), is a pediatric clinic dedicated to patients ages 13-23 with chronic conditions and/or developmental disabilities. Our ultimate goal is to provide holistic care over time to ensure their long-term medical and non-medical needs are met as they transition from childhood into adulthood.
Part of my role as Transition Coordinator at JaxHATS is to assist patients with navigating their health condition, as well as all the added stressors they might face as they approach adulthood. As I reflect on my service term, I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that this medical home has had on my own personal and professional development. Like many of our patients, I found a home at JaxHATS. The hearth-like enthusiasm emanates from its team members. In them, I learned the impact of boundless compassionate care and how these like-minded values make us a more successful family unit.
We teach our patients autonomy and self-sufficiency so that even after they’ve transitioned out they will remember the skills we instilled. By being given the independence to create and participate in several programs and quality improvement projects, I put those same skills into practice. I refined my proficiency in counseling, leadership, and peer mentorship. I was encouraged to use my strengths creatively and the active support I received in return enhanced my confidence. I further reinforced my understanding of community needs and strengthened my cultural competency and awareness. I learned to first ask the patient what they need before trying to bridge the instances where I observed there to be community gaps. What one believes to be a solution may indeed be the problem and vice versa.
I am grateful to have found a home here because, like many of our patients, I found belonging. For me, it took place in my discovery of a pediatric niche that I never knew existed, called Community and Societal Pediatrics, and henceforth my future specialty. That being said, JaxHATS is more than a medical home because in addition to cultivating partnerships and encouraging growth, it inspires us to be our best selves. Like the essence of this home, the lessons I have learned are ones I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.