By: Maya Combs
Maya is from Menlo Park, CA and graduated in 2015 from Loyola Marymount University where she majored in Sociology and Political Science. This year, Maya is working at the Community of Hope Family Health and Birth Center as a patient advocate for women and families in the DC-area.
Upon walking into the Family Health and Birth Center, the primary care clinic that I have the pleasure and privilege to work in, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted by all the women of color that fill the FHBC walls. As a FHBC patient, you can enter the center and check in with a Black receptionist, get prenatal education from a Black prenatal educator and receive care from a Black midwife all in the same visit. This reality is so powerful to me as it is a personal novelty that an institution can be physically representative of the patients it serves and within the community it’s located in. It truly feels like one family serving another.
In my position as a Patient Advocate I am able to refill prescriptions, initiate Prior Authorizations with insurance companies for prescriptions that are not financially covered and provide resources to FHBC patients. Some of the most rewarding parts of this position is when I can submit a “Prior Auth” for a patient who desperately needs a particular prescription and after submitting the necessary application and awaiting the review time, the authorization comes back approved and the patient can get their medication. More often than not, this process does not run as smoothly as the patient and I would like, but when it does it definitely feels like a victory has been won.
An even more rewarding part of the position is when I actually get the chance to meet with patients that our Behavioral Health Therapist or Providers refer to me because they are in need of a particular resource. The resources needed can range from transitional housing and shelters, to rental assistance, to food sources and even transportation to and from medical appointments.Typically, these encounters begin with a brief meeting with either the Behavior Health Therapist or Nurse Practitioner and myself, where they brief me on the patient’s situation and what services he or she could use. I then look through my resource guide and locate the resources that are in closest proximity to the patient and verify with the source that they indeed can be of some help to the patient.
A patient that I was particularly touched by was a mother of four who was referred to me to gain financial literacy resources that would help her to better support her family. After meeting with our Behavioral Health Therapist and learning about the patient, I was able to contact some coalitions who provide financial literacy workshops in her neighborhood and create a list of locations and contacts to give to her. Upon meeting with her and giving her the list I was really excited to share, I found myself being deeply touched by her story.
In that short 10-15 minute meeting, this woman felt comfortable enough with me to share her dreams of starting a non-profit that better services the DC natives that reside in the poorer and often neglected quadrants of South East and South West DC. She shared how she felt that the organizations that are currently in SE and SW are very unconnected to those who they are aiming to support. She felt that those who have actually lived amongst the people they want to serve tend to make a greater impact in those lives and how she wants to be a role model for her community. She talked about how she had fallen off of her feet and just needed a bit of support to get her back to stability and better able provide for her loved ones and soon, her community as a whole.This woman was so passionate about her goals and I felt so blessed that she felt comfortable enough to share them with me. It was in that moment, that I felt my purpose as a Loretto Volunteer being fulfilled. Not because I was able to give her a few resources, but because I was able to serve as an open ear to a woman with a goal and a dream.
In Their Own Words
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