I decided a long time ago that my career goal is to work with underserved populations. People who are poverty-stricken, homeless, and/or uninsured have limited access to healthcare and have a hard time stabilizing their health, and I wanted to lend a helping hand to get them on track for treating their illnesses. This goal led me to serve with North Florida Health Corps as a patient advocate at the Sulzbacher Clinic, located in downtown Jacksonville. The Sulzbacher Center is Northeast Florida’s largest provider for inclusive services for homeless men, women, and children. The clinic serves an estimated 67,226 patients yearly with primary, dental, and behavioral health services. The Sulzbacher Center’s efforts are consistent with their slogan of finding “The Way Home” for countless Jacksonville residents.
As a patient advocate, I have the unique role of helping clients with the Patient Assistance Program, which helps patients receive free medications. On average, I enroll 70 patients into Patient Assistance Programs per month, in addition to 30 re-enrollments per month. When I started serving here in September, I quickly realized that I play a distinct and major role in providing these patients with access to care. I serve patients who have a variety of chronic diseases that can range from diabetes to HIV.
I will always remember one particular patient who came in to obtain refills of insulin. After handing the patient a clipboard with paperwork for a Patient Assistance Program application, he asked with irritation, “What is all this paperwork? I’ve already filled out paperwork today!”
“It’s a Patient Assistance Program application,” I told him. “This will be used to order your insulin so your blood glucose level is maintained.”’
His smirk quickly changed into a smile. Without hesitation, he grabbed the clipboard and began to fill out the necessary information on the application. “You’re the one responsible for treating my diabetes,” he said, realizing that I was helping him receive necessary medication for free. “Thank you so much.” Seeing my clients smile is amazing!
Since so many of my clients lack access to a variety of resources, I am honored to serve as a resource that helps to stabilize their physical, mental and emotional health. Poor health can have far-reaching negative impact, like losing one’s job or home. By providing these patients with necessary, free medications in order to help improve their health, I am also helping to stop the cycle of poverty, and helping them find “The Way Home.”
This blog post was written by NFHC member Cydni Martin.
Cydni serves at I.M Sulzbacher Center as a Patient Advocate.