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I just spent the morning with the passionate -- and fearless -- team from our Community Connections Program. These outreach specialists and social workers spend their days combing homeless shelters, street corners and alleys looking for patients. Most of the people they help have been in and out of our emergency room at Community Regional Medical Center because of chronic medical problems that aren't well managed, drug/alcohol addictions or mental illness. Many have all three issues.
The Community Connections team celebrates little wins: when someone makes it to a follow up visit with a specialist on time, or shows up at the social security office, or buys a weekly pill organizer and uses it for their many medications. The program connects our frequent emergency room visitors to resources to help get them off the street and to help them stabilize and manage their medical problems. These caring employees look past the prison-acquired tatoos, the dishevelled wardrobes, the bleery eyes and 3-day beards to connect with these patients - to find the human beings beneath their difficult life circumstances. Our goal is to make them former patients.
I was particularly touched by Outreach Specialist Marlene Rodriguez' story of how other Community employees have pitched in to help. In her words: "I put on my FaceBook 'Hey folks you all know what I do. I got three people off the streets this week and I'm looking for donations.' People from all over Community donated TVs and beds and coffee pots and chairs. They helped make empty apartments into nice homes for these men."
That's the kind of story that really makes me proud to work here. We do so much more than care for people inside our hospital walls.
Erin M. Kennedy
Senior Communications Specialist
Communications & Marketing Department