My time as a Patient Care Management volunteer

Guest Blogger, Rachel Massey, writes about her time as a Patient Care Management volunteer

After saying adios to the medical service trip team, Katie and I began our two weeks as Patient Care Management volunteers. There were spreadsheets to manage, medicines to inventory and physicians’ chicken scratch to decode. Translating clinic charts into a comprehensive game plan for follow-up care was the first order of business, but we quickly found our American ideas of efficiency challenged by the lack of appointment system, deficient facilities and patients’ inexperience recounting accurate medical histories. That being said, it was a privilege to observe the unrelenting patience and compassion with which the International Programs Directors approach each day, determined to meet the health care needs of these underserved communities in spite of institutional, political and cultural obstacles. With Nicole and Megan as our teachers, we were able to learn how to connect patients to appropriate referral sources, advocate on their behalf during consultations, coordinate follow-up, play dominoes and so much more.

Patient Care Management Volunteers, Rachel and Kate, along with HHI's International Programs Directors, after interpreting for patients during pre-surgical consults.

The impact that their leadership has had in the last year with regards to the development of HHI’s community health workers program is a testament to the scope of their dedication. One day during a house call to Larikza, one of Pancho Mateo’s fabulous cooperadores, we expressed concern for a patient whose hypertension required additional monitoring. Larikza was ten steps ahead; not only was she already taking this patient’s blood pressure daily, she was using these visits as teaching opportunities. Taking the time to engage her patient, explaining how blood pressure can still be high even on days when the patient feels well, Larikza actively addressed the issue of medication adherence in a way that was relevant to this particular individual. To say that this initiative is impressive would be an understatement.

The commitment demonstrated by HHI’s cooperadores is a reflection of the commitment demonstrated by the organization to empower local people as a means of building local capacity. I believe that there will come a day when Montellano’s public hospital will have means to provide the services it is currently unable to offer, and the magnitude of patients it is currently unable to manage will receive a quality of care that is just. The list of barriers is infinite and the problems profound, but witnessing the impact HHI’s encouragement has on natural-born leaders like Larikza, enabling them to make the changes they want to see in the health of their communities, I have reason to believe in HHI’s vision. I look forward to seeing how the organization will continue to grow under the new IPDs, and I thank my teachers, Nicole and Megan, both for their perseverance and for all the teaching moments that made this experience so inspirational.

Rachel works with cooperador, Yeraudiz, to triage patients.

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