Patient Advocacy Amidst a Global Crisis
Wanting to gain a better understanding of barriers to care and health access, I stepped into my role as Clinic Liaison with the Nationalities Service Center excited for what I was to learn during my service term. As clinic liaison, I would be working with refugee and immigrant populations to help establish primary care as well as manage follow up - an amazing opportunity to closely interact with these patients and observe the interventions in place to service them. However, as much as I anticipated what was to come, nothing could have prepared me for the absolutely transformative experience I would have while working at NSC.
Stepping into my role around the end of August of 2021, I also happened to be stepping into NSC’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul. Pledging to resettle 500 Afghan evacuees, NSC was preparing for a major surge. With this rapid increase in cases and limited resources, my role had thus expanded to include triaging cases to ensure those with the most urgent medical needs would be seen first, and by the time December hit, we were in full crisis response. We were working around the clock to ensure everyone would be connected with care as efficiently as possible, seeing up to 14 patients a day - a number made possible solely by the generosity of our partner clinics who took the pledge with us to welcome as many patients as needed.
Seeing this, I witnessed firsthand the power that individuals have in transforming the health landscape. They identified needs and responded to them with meaningful action through holistic and culturally competent care. They not only cared about getting clients into the clinic but also made sure they would be taken care of once they left as well. Knowing my role as the liaison between the client, resettlement agency, and clinic, they identified areas of need outside of the clinic and relayed them to me so that I could coordinate across the different departments within NSC to help fill that need.
As a result, through this experience, I’ve learned what it truly means to be a patient advocate. When it mattered most, our physicians responded to the call of duty with action, being a beacon of light amidst the direst of circumstances.