This week, the spotlight is on 2019-2020 CHCACT's STICH AmeriCorps member Shana Morel. Shana shares details about her AmeriCorps experience serving with First Choice Health Centers in East Hartford.
Why did you decide to join the STICH AmeriCorps program?
Shana: I decided to join Service to Improve Community Health (STICH) to participate in a program that is both service and health-related. I was interested in my position because it offered a unique role to both interact with patients and have access to patient data for analysis. I wanted to make a positive impact on patient outcomes by being involved with the health center’s improvement measures. Lastly, the opportunity to outreach into the community to increase health insurance literacy as well as health education was a large draw.
What has been the most meaningful experience you've had during service thus far?
Shana: I was able to focus on a 2019 initiative of improving colorectal cancer screenings. I have learned how to run reports to see which patients are due for screenings. I also get to see patients directly at their appointments and explain their screening options. Furthermore, I analyze the data over time. It was validating to see how my efforts, as well as others, were able to increase our screening rates in order to reach our 2019 goal and be above the national average.
If you had to describe your AmeriCorps experience in three words, what would that be? Why?
- Coordination. I have learned from serving in a Federally Qualified Health Center that it really takes a team of all different disciplines to come together in order to care for the whole patient.
- Hopeful. Learning about additions that First Choice Health Center has made and will make, such as having an LGBTQ+ center and opening up a pharmacy and a gym for patients to use, leaves me hopeful that patients will have more access to what they need to benefit their health.
- Surprising. I am constantly surprised (in a good way) by what First Choice does behind the scenes and directly with the patient to improve health measures. For example, behind the scenes, there is a data analyst, epidemiologist, and others working with patient data to evaluate where and how we can improve patient outcomes. As for directly with the patient, there is a large range of different services and programs offered to help patients in more specific areas, such as affording prescriptions or improving a certain health condition.
How has service changed you and your perspective of the world?
Shana: Service has changed my perspective in multiple ways. In one way, I have a new perspective on what continuity of care means and how to work towards it. In another way, I have learned how caring and putting in a little extra effort can really make a significant difference in a patient’s life. Whether that is taking an extra few minutes to explain the importance of a test, continuing to reach out to a patient who has not come in for their appointments, or teaching a person who had just immigrated some basic medical terms, it all makes a difference.
What advice would you give to those interested in participating in AmeriCorps?
Shana: If you are interested in health and service, STICH gives a unique opportunity to its members to be involved in the community, but also with a Federally Qualified Health Center and the patients they serve. If you have experience with outreach and making lesson plans that is helpful when it comes to educating patients and community members. Maya and Emily are passionate and supportive managers of the program. Monthly meetings lead by Maya and Emily bring all the members together to regroup, share ideas, and learn more, so you are always part of a team.