National Health Corps Pittsburgh Blog

"The bulk of my service at the Allegheny County Health Department involves providing sexual health education to patients over the phone and promoting condom usage at outreach events. My day-to-day looks very different from a normal nine to five job, and when I tell people what I do on a daily basis, they often don’t know how to react. The truth is, sex and sexual health can be awkward things to talk about due to the sensitive and personal nature of the subject matter, and for this reason many people may feel uncomfortable with the topic. This can often make my position difficult, as I try to reach out to new patients and organizations to promote the Health Department's services and educate the general public."
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"As a patient navigator, I contact and schedule patients who are overdue for preventative exams and health screenings, and I meet with patients who are new to SHHC to discuss the services we offer. Providing these healthcare services successfully has required guidance from many of the clinicians at SHHC. Lauren Bloom, primary care physician assistant (PA-C), is one of those providers, and she has been helpful in making my work at SHHC effective."
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"Age is the main risk factor for the prevalent diseases of developed countries, including cancer and cardiovascular disease (WHO, 2015). Although aging is inevitable, the risks of developing these common health conditions and the severity of certain illnesses can be mitigated with better nutrition. Unfortunately, a growing number of older Americans are food insecure."
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"Katie has her Master of Social Work and has been at SHHC for about six years. She is the Manager of Care Navigation, a role that encompasses social work services, care coordination, and advocacy for patients and the care coordination team. Having been a mentor to AmeriCorps members for several years, she has a good understanding of the value a year in AmeriCorps has on the population we serve as well as on the member. On a day to day basis it can be hard to see the bigger picture of how your service impacts the patient because many of my meaningful interactions with patients are over the phone. I decided to sit down and interview Katie to help clarify the broad impacts of my service."
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"Three months ago, I packed up my Grand Prix with all of my possessions, left Michigan, and started driving east. What first struck me was the view. Driving into Pittsburgh on 376-E takes you through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. As soon as you leave the tunnel, the beauty of the city strikes you — you’re dumped out onto the Fort Pitt Bridge, headed directly for downtown; sunlight reflects off PPG Place buildings, and all is right with the world. To your right is the Monongahela River and Smithfield Street Bridge. To your left is the Point Park fountain and the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, from which the Ohio is born. Pittsburgh truly is a beautiful city, textured by three magnificent rivers, 90 distinct neighborhoods, 446 bridges, and all the hills and ridges characteristic of Appalachia."
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"Friday, November 17th was the official beginning of the 2017-18 Pennsylvania High School winter sports season. It is also the beginning of something much more. Arguably the most competitive state in the nation, Pennsylvania has a very deeply-understood culture around the sport of wrestling. Individuals from all over the state are now officially beginning their training. What this often looks like is students wearing trash bags, layers upon layers of clothing, spitting into empty bottles to lose minute amounts of water from their body and starving themselves to get to a ridiculously low weight. Historically, these actions were accepted norms and continue to be thought of as an integral part of the sport, resulting in a negative impact on the health of wrestlers."
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"When I realized I could not explain preventative health screenings in a way that patients would understand, I consulted my mentors. I thought back to one of our first trainings with Becky Carpenter of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Center. She spoke about the current state of literacy in Allegheny County and how low health literacy can be a barrier that patients faced when interacting with the healthcare system. We discussed how low health literacy could appear during a typical office visit: not completing check-in questionnaires, difficulty understanding visit summary/diagnosis papers, or misunderstanding prescriptions and how and when to take them."
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"A Thanksgiving Distribution is an annual event organized by the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Clinical & Translational Science Institute. This year, the event took place on Saturday, November 18 and provided 700 families from southwest Pennsylvania with the ingredients needed to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The event also held a Health and Human Services Village where families could receive health screenings and information from various human services organizations including Center for Victims, Tobacco Free Allegheny, and Mission Vision. 450 volunteers, vendors, and staff members helped make the event a success."
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"I recently contacted the father of an adolescent patient who was overdue for a wellness examination at the Squirrel Hill Health Center (SHHC). I was attempting to schedule the patient for an appointment, but was met with a few obstacles as the father grew frustrated, largely due to the language and cultural barriers between us. The patient’s father was non-English speaking, and we were communicating through an interpreter. In our exchanges, there were numerous words in the English language that did not directly translate to the father’s language, which made the process all the more challenging. As our struggles with communication continued, I took a moment to step back and reflect on the situation and soon realized the father was simply trying to do something that I often take for granted, which was to obtain the best possible health care for his child."
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"We have had many great training together as National Health Corps members, but one in particular really fostered our togetherness as a group as well as our connection with those we serve. Mario Browne, the director of the Office of Health Sciences Diversity at the University of Pittsburgh, was scheduled to talk about cultural competency and awareness. I anticipated his training to be straight-forward and lecture-style as that is how most training goes. I was pleasantly surprised when he sat down in the circle with us and became a part of our group."
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