Serving remotely comes with a unique set of challenges but finding new ways to adapt and serve the Albany Park community has been very interesting and valuable to navigate. My role as a health educator has switched to virtual visits, and I typically either video-call or use a phone to connect with my patients and help them identify lifestyle changes they wish to make and set goals for their health. However, my typical schedule of six to eight appointments a day has decreased to only one or two. Because my service projects as a health educator have changed significantly, I’ve also had time to help our clinic’s physicians work on innovation projects, such as panel management projects to increase our patient outreach. This tool has allowed us to streamline reaching out to patients and creates workflows for us based on different diagnoses; this has been really useful when considering how COVID-19 disproportionately affects individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, because it allows us to reach out to our most vulnerable patients more easily. Although it took a while to get it up and running, seeing the effects that the worklist tool has had on our clinic’s ability to effectively contact patients and schedule appointments has been incredible, and we are now implementing the tool across all of Heartland’s clinics.
Another project that I’ve been able to help develop is Heartland’s COVID-19 patient tracker. By teaming up with our nurses and medical assistants to get it up and running, it increases our ability to outreach our COVID patients, as one of our clinic sites is now conducting drive-thru testing. Tools like these are what we like to call the silver lining of this pandemic at our clinic; we’ve always wanted to implement them, and the immediate need for such resources has sped up our timeline and allowed us to start rolling them out.
I do miss going into the clinic each day and seeing the team that has become like a family to me, but having the opportunity to find unique ways to serve our patient population remotely has been challenging yet rewarding. Starting new projects and being able to support the clinic in different ways showed me an entirely new side of public health, and I can’t wait to see what other initiatives I have the opportunity to build upon during my service year!
This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2019-20 member Reema Amin.
Reema is a Health Educator at Heartland Health Center - Albany Park.