Finally… My First Patient!
By Jessica Koren, Community HealthCorps Navigator from Hudson River Healthcare, Inc.
One of my main assignments as a Community HealthCorps Navigator at Hudson River Healthcare is to be a health coach for the Chronic Conditions project. The focus of this project is to help patients with hypertension and diabetes better understand their condition and set self management goals. As a health coach, I have one-on-one meetings with patients to help them work towards their health care goals.
The other Navigators and I were eager to meet the project’s patients and get started with our coaching. We had undergone training with a provider at the health center, and were ready to put our skills into action. We were given a list of patients that were hypertensive and non-compliant, meaning their blood pressure was out of control because they were not adhering to their treatment plan. We were each assigned patients to call and invite to be a part of this program.
As I started calling patients, I realized this process would have some challenges. Some of the patients were difficult to reach by phone, and some were simply not interested in a program such as this. I managed to find a few patients who wanted to participate, and we set up our first meetings.
It was the day before my first meeting with a patient and I called her to confirm her appointment the next day at 9am. I waited for her in our designated meeting spot, and after 40 minutes of waiting, I knew she was not going to come. I called her to see what happened, and she said she had to cancel. I was a little disappointed because I had prepared for our meeting and was looking forward to meeting her, but I didn’t let it get to me and hoped the next appointment would work out better.
The following week was my next appointment with a different patient. Just like for the first patient, I confirmed our meeting time and location for the next morning. I was waiting for her to arrive, and after 30 minutes, the patient was still a no-show. When I called her, she told me she didn’t feel like coming today. This time, I was even more disappointed because two patients didn’t attend their scheduled meetings. I had a lot of great information and knowledge to share, but no one to share it with. My fellow Navigators were experiencing the same problem as well—their patients were not showing up either, and we were all unsure of why this was happening. I was glad to have my fellow Navigators for support, and we bounced ideas off of one another to try to move past this hold up and keep the program moving forward.
About a week later, I was given the name of a third patient who was interested in participating in our program. I was so excited and called her right away to set up an appointment. As it turns out, she was coming back to the health center the next day, and I suggested that we coordinate a brief meeting to get to know one another. She really liked that idea, and told me she would give me a call when her appointment was finished.
Based on my previous two experiences, I thought the patient may not show up. I was just finishing up my lunch when all of the sudden, my phone rang. I jumped up to answer it, and it was at that moment that I was proved wrong. She called! Our initial meeting went as planned, and I walked away from the health center with a huge smile on my face. We had a great conversation, and this patient was motivated to change. We talked about what specific aspects of her healthcare she would like to focus on, and set goals for our sessions in the future. This meeting exemplified the mission of the Chronic Conditions project and I felt, for the first time, what it’s like to have a direct impact on someone. She walked away with a smile on her face as well, eager for her coaching to begin, and I knew we would have a successful relationship in the upcoming months as patient and health coach!