Erie Family Health Center’s Outreach Services
April 27, 2011 | Ginny
If you want to witness some of the exceptional services Erie Family Health Center provides, all you have to do is take a seat in an Erie waiting room. You’ll see patients moving in and out, taking with them a reassurance they’ve found a place that truly cares about their health. If you wander throughout the clinic, you’ll see case managers working diligently alongside patients, educators teaching about the importance of exercise and healthy eating, providers listening to patients’ stories, and support groups learning and offering guidance to one another.
The amazing thing about Erie is that these wonderful services extend beyond the Erie walls. Outreach workers travel throughout Chicago communities to schools and social service agencies, educating and informing Chicagoans about a variety of health issues. By informing others on topics such as oral health, HIV/AIDS, depression, wellness and many others, these outreach workers not only teach participants about how to improve their health, but also spread the word on how Erie Family Health Center can help guide them to a healthier life.
Lauren Ranalli MPH, Manager of Community Programs, sees Erie’s outreach program as a vital part of bringing the message of health into Chicago communities. “Outreach presentations are a great opportunity for Erie to engage with community members,” says Lauren. “They are a way for us to tell Chicago residents about the comprehensive programs and services offered at Erie.”
Outreach services also offer audiences the chance to focus on a particular topic or facet of their health. Whether it’s demonstrating the proper way to exercise, giving a cooking lesson, or using models to demonstrate the pathways of medication, presentations take a new spin on standard health lessons. “Participants at our outreach presentations can increase their knowledge on a new health topic, such as how to better manage their diabetes or protect themselves from contracting HIV. They can also gain a new skill, such as how to talk to their child about sexual health or how to read a food nutrition label,” says Lauren.
Benjamin Harris, an Erie Americorp Health Educator, knows firsthand the importance of Erie’s outreach services. “I think we, as a society, are learning that human health is a much more complex and multi-faceted state than we initially thought—one that requires a more multi-dimensional and multi-member approach,” says Benjamin. “Outreach workers work with our patients and participants to take what their provider tells them and apply it to their own lives in feasible and meaningful ways.”
Most importantly, outreach services offer a continued resource for health – Erie Family Health Center. “Participants can learn about great resources at Erie and in the community,” Lauren says. “For example, participants will learn who is eligible to receive a free mammogram through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program or how to set up a smoking cessation appointment with Erie’s Lung Health Educator.”
Erie’s outreach services continually strive to carry the Erie mission of providing accessible and affordable health care forward. They present health care in a unique and versatile way to the communities Erie serves. “Accessible and affordable health care requires a team that collaborates in all aspects – from the exam room to the conference room where our education classes meet to our patients’ homes,” states Benjamin. “Our mission to provide affordable, accessible and high quality care takes a strong commitment to serve and to build a trusting relationship with our patients and communities. As outreach workers, we add a new dimension to that service – we reinforce and build upon the trust that is built between our providers and our patients, between our centers and the communities we serve.”