Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Call for Change

          It is the end of the spring semester, which also means the end of my amazing internship.  I am both excited for my summer break to start, but I am a little sad, as well.  For the summer, my clients that I have been dealing with will be transferred to other Advocates, who will be working at Health Leads during the break.  When the Fall semester starts, I may be assigned new clients.  I feel like there was still work to be done with each of my clients, and I am upset that I was not able to see each case through till the end.  But I am confident that another Advocate will step up to the task and get the job done.
     My time spent at Health Leads really opened my eyes.  In many ways, I was a little sheltered before my arrival at the desk.  I seemed to ignore the many needs within my own community.  Many of my clients expressed needs for food, clothing, electricity and heating, and much more.  These necessities are basic resources.  Yet, lack of basic resources often can impact one's health tremendously.  I realized that the first thing that needs to be addressed is helping more people in our community obtain these simple commodities.  Without them, being healthy is incredibly difficult.  It seems obvious that if we can address this tremendous shortfall within the community, many other components along the healthcare continuum can be eliminated.  Many diseases and illnesses that stem from lack of these commodities can be prevented.  Although I am just one college student, I hope to see a change.  It is my hope that more individuals no longer have to worry about where to find the things that so many of us take for granted. 
     Healthcare inequality within the US is an incredibly complex issue.  Although this nation has made significant strides in medicine, many Americans have yet to benefit.  Particularly among the racial and ethnic minorities, there is a tremendous shortfall in the accessibility and quality of healthcare.  This matter cannot simply be overlooked.  With recent legislation, like the Affordable Care Act, it is my hope that this nation will continue to make strides for everyone.  I wish to see the healthcare gap closed.  My dream is to see a system that benefits every single American.  Regardless of the money one makes, the color of one's skin or the language one speaks, every single person is entitled to live a fulfilling, happy, and healthy life.

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ” 
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Final Countdown

     With just two weeks left of my internship, I think it is time to reflect on my weeks spent at Health Leads.  What an experience it has been!  At the beginning, I was quite apprehensive.  I was unsure if I would make for a good Advocate.  I had a lot to learn.  I feared that I would not be able to handle the challenge set for me.  Well, I am glad I went beyond my comfort zone.  Although very cliché, I am thrilled that I explored the unknown.
     Helping people and trying to make someone's life a little better should be ordinary.  We should not think twice about extending ourselves.  Trying to lessen someone's burden should be a daily occurrence.  Unfortunately, we often get wrapped up in our own matters.  We forget about those around us.  Often, I am guilty of this.  
     Through this internship, I can truly say I remembered the importance of humility and compassion.  As an Advocate, I was accountable for someone other than myself.  My clients invoked my help.  Each week, I called to check in and make sure everyone was doing well.  I shared my client's frustration as well as their joy.  I felt compassion for my clients.  I tried to listen to each story, without judging.  Without predispositions or negative assumptions, I tried my best to help each client.  I never felt that the work I did was extraordinary or remarkable.  Yet, each client showed me incredible gratitude.  It was truly humbling.  To me, I did little.  For them, it meant so much.      
     Luckily, I am returning to Health Leads in the fall.  I consider myself truly lucky to have been such an incredible opportunity.  Remember, the most important thing we can do is help others! :)

   “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
― Margaret Mead

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Case Closed!

     It is that time again!  As another week draws to an end, I find myself reflecting on my internship.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given this opportunity.  As per usual, I arrived at the desk at 9 a.m.  Feeling much more confident, I settled down and dialed the first client in Triage.  This week I was able to reach someone.  Unfortunately, I caught them at a bad time, but the client said they would call our office back.  This is a step in the right direction!  I got in contact, so they know we are here for them, whenever they need.
     After 30 minutes, I began reaching out to my usual clients.  I spoke with almost all of my clients.  Some of my clients prefer to be contacted via email.  After my phone calls were made and emails sent, I researched into particular resources for my clients.  These resources included daycare, job placement sites, and ESL classes.  On Thursday evening, I met with the other Health Advocates for our weekly reflection session.  We shared experiences and offered each other helpful tips.
    I would like to share a particular awesome experience that occurred this week.  I closed my first case!  What does that mean? After we provide a client with the resource that they need, we assess his or her case.  We ask if there is anything else that we can help them with.  If not, the Advocate has met the client's need.  This means that we can close the client's case.
    My client needed information regarding health insurance.  I provided the client with the number of someone who could help.  The client contacted the individual, who will now help with the issue.  Thus, I met the need of the client, and my first case has officially been closed!  What an awesome week it was!

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 

Desmond Tutu

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Minor Challenge

     I am at the end of week five of my internship.  These weeks seem to be passing so quickly!  Arriving at the Health Leads Office at 9:00, I began triage.  Although I feel more comfortable than previous weeks, there is always that initial nervousness making the first call to clients.  During those initial 30 minutes of triage, I was unable to get in contact with anyone.  This can be frustrating and discouraging.  I want to help, but if I am unable to contact clients, there is little else I can do.  
     I spent the remainder of my time at the Health Leads Office reaching out to each of my clients.  This week I encountered a minor impediment.  One of my clients informed me that my referral to an office, which would assist the client with health insurance, was not effective.  My client had contacted the number I provided, but the client had not heard back.  I felt terrible.  I took the initiative to call the office myself.  I, too had no luck.  Hopefully, when I return to the Health Leads Office this Monday, I will hear back from them.  This is disheartening.  The client took my advice and gave the office a call, but it did not work.  Yet, I remain positive and determined to find another alternative referral for my client.  
     Although it is always great to see progress and success, I think it is important to acknowledge setbacks, as well.  This week I definitely encountered a challenge.  This is okay.  I am confident that my next blog will encompass a more positive experience and demonstrate growth as a Health Leads Advocate.   

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lend A Helping Hand!

     I am at the end of week three of my internship.  Oh, what a week it was!  After arriving at 9:00 a.m at the Health Leads Office, I spent the first 30 minutes on Triage.  Triage entails contacting clients about whom we have limited information.  Clients are often referred to us through physicians.  They fill out an initial form.  The form includes very minuscule details.  In order to adequately help them, Advocates need to get a better understanding of their situation.  Therefore, it is up to Health Advocates to reach out to each client in Triage and learn more.  This way we know exactly what we can do for them.  Once we grasp a deeper understanding, the client in Triage can be assigned to an Advocate.    
     After spending 30 minutes working on Triage, I then proceeded to get in contact with each of the clients assigned to me.  I definitely was much more confident this week.  For some of my clients, I could only leave voicemails.  However, I was able to get in touch with a few families.  They expressed to me their needs for resources including financial assistance, ESL classes, and food pantries.  It was my goal to help each of them.  I spent time on Monday researching places where they could receive the help they needed.  
     An experience really stood out to me this week.  A client expressed a need for financial assistance.  I was able to provide the client with the address and information that could be of assistance.  I have never received such satisfaction in my life.  The client was so appreciative and happy.  I was truly touched.  This showed me that sometimes even the smallest gesture can mean so much.  I cannot wait to learn more, do more, and help more at this New York Health Leads Internship!

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
- John Holmes

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The First Call!

     My first official week at Nassau University Medical Center has ended.  What a truly incredible first week!  I arrived Monday morning for a 9:00-12:00 morning shift.  In the heart of the pediatric section of the hospital, Health Leads is a small office.  My project manager was incredibly kind and helped to get me familiar with a program that we would be using, called Client Connect.  Through Client Connect, I will be able to access each of my client’s information.  In addition, I can search and locate the resources for my clients.  It even allows me to narrow the searches to areas nearby their homes. 
     After familiarizing myself with the program, it was time to call my first client.  I was to introduce myself and let them know that I was the Health advocate that would be working with them.  Filled with both excitement and nervousness, I dialed my first client.  The majority of my clients are foreign-speaking.  Therefore, I needed the help of a translator to communicate with them.  I was a little disappointed that I only was able to get in contact with one client.  I left a voicemail for those that I could not reach.  I plan on following up with them again next Monday.  It was definitely a great first day, and I learned a lot.  I am confident that in the upcoming weeks I will get in contact with all my clients and do my best to provide them with the help that they need.  There is so much more that I hope to learn. 
     On Thursday evening, the Health Advocates came together for a reflection session at Hofstra.  We listened to guest speakers, who provided insightful information to assist us in our work as Advocates.  We heard stories and watched clips from people in need of medical treatment.  The Advocates spent time thinking about different scenarios and worked to ensure that we are prepared for various situations that we may encounter at Health Leads.

Monday, February 17, 2014

     Hello!  My name is Sandra Morrongiello, and I am a junior at Hofstra University. Ever since I was young, I dreamed of working with people who were less fortunate and needed help.  I had a noble desire to change the world.  For me, becoming a doctor was the ideal career path.  Upon entering college, I decided to be a pre-med student, with a Global Studies major.  As a Global Studies major, I study local and global issues and ways to make improvements in our world.  
     I was incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to pursue my passion for working with people.  This spring semester, I will be doing an internship at Nassau University Medical Center with an organization called Health Leads.  Health Leads works with doctors, nurses, and social workers to make changes to healthcare.  Together with health professionals, they seek to address all the patient’s basic needs. My role is to be a Health Advocate.  Essentially, my task is to work with families that lack the basic resources such as food, housing, and health insurance.  Unfortunately, lack of these basic resources can be detrimental and significantly impact a person’s health.  I will be faced with researching and recommending places for these families to go to receive whatever they may need.
     Although I just started this week, I can tell this is going to be an awesome and rewarding experience.  I have been assigned to work with six families in particular.  I have reviewed each family’s background, and I will be in contact with them shortly.  I am anxious to get to know them and to help them in any way that I can.
     The Department of Global Studies has allowed me to apply this internship towards my degree.  As part of my requirements, I will be keeping a blog of my experiences.  This blog will include details about my experiences and related topics.  I am thrilled to spend this semester working in the hospital setting with families who really need me.  I am confident that it will be an unforgettable experience, and I will keep you posted!