I have had an extremely successful and eye-opening first week as a Patient Navigator Intern at Hope Medical Clinic! Hope is a free clinic located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and provides medical care and social work support to patients who are not covered by insurance. I work in the social work department and provide various resources to patients who come in throughout the day. Hope is so much more than your average clinic – it has a food pantry, produce stand, laundry services, worship opportunities, and social workers who are able to assist patients in applying for insurance and other programs.
As a student intending to pursue a career in public health, I was drawn to this internship to learn the impact of government assistance programs, such as Medicaid and Food Stamps, on the lives of everyday people. It’s one thing to learn about insurance through a class at UM, but to actually see its impact on someone’s life is an entirely different experience. With the help of other interns and social workers at Hope, I have been able to have positive, meaningful engagements with patients and assist them in applying for Medicaid and other government assistance programs.
One of my favorite programs that I’ve referred patients to is called Prescription for Health. Prescription for Health is a program created by the Washtenaw County Public Health dept. and provides free produce tokens to low-income patients with chronic physical/mental illnesses. Patients are about to attend 10 fruit and vegetable markets in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area throughout the year and meet with a community health worker on-site to learn how to prepare the produce they purchase. They are also able to spend their tokens on $10 worth of produce at the market! This is an important program to me because it expands who has access to healthy foods. Many people want to eat healthy foods but are unable to afford them or have no idea how to prepare them. Prescription for Health allows patients to choose their own fruits and vegetables, and learn how to turn them into a delicious meal!
I am so excited to continue on this journey and assist many more patients in receiving the resources they need.