2014-2015 Community HealthCorps Members
Many people ask what a Community HealthCorps member is and what we do. The truth is, it depends. Around our office people like to say, “If you’ve seen one community health center… you’ve seen one community health center.” As HealthCorps members, our roles vary as much as our health centers do. One of the program’s biggest selling points to me was that we are not allowed to do anything that anyone else at the office already does. This means we are free to come in, start new projects, think creatively, and explore our interests.
In October, I dove headlong into the Affordable Care Act, insurance, and Medicaid in Connecticut. My primary role at CHCACT, at least to start, was to serve as a liaison between the enrollment workers (certified application counselors) at all of our community health centers and Access Health CT, the marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act. I troubleshot eligibility questions, ordered marketing materials, and helped facilitate weekly conference calls with the CACs.
Getting insurance is confusing, and using it can be even more daunting. As an aspiring medical student I had done my fair share of shadowing doctors. I came to HealthCorps with some exposure to the clinical side of medicine. My HealthCorps experience, however, was from a new perspective. It was a chance to see another side of the medical team. A side that is imperative to a patient’s health. Enrollment workers are the access point to care for many patients. Now, as I move on to medical school, I will hold with me the experience of seeing some of the hurdles a patient faces just to get into the doctor’s office.
In February, my role expanded. Open Enrollment ended and I had the time to explore new projects. My supervisor, Deb Polun, mentioned CHCACT’s blog and how it would be interesting to make videos on different programs the health centers have. From February until July I made 16 videos. I had never edited video before but I was afforded the opportunity and time to learn. In my year of service I also helped write (and receive) a grant for $40,000, worked on a mapping project that showed legislators the use of health centers among their constituents, and also participated in weekend service projects.
HealthCorps gave me the flexibility and space to explore my interests and find ones I didn’t know I had. I am grateful to everyone who offered advice/help/encouragement over the service year. Thanks especially to the CACs and to Deb Polun, your dedication inspired me throughout the year! I hope our paths cross again. – Sam