Bridging the Gap Between Medicine and Healing

MedStar Health – It’s How We Treat People.

“I don’t have transportation to get places. I couldn’t walk. I could barely get across the street to the grocery store,” says Helen Dalton. Thankfully those circumstances changed once she was connected with Paul Pass, a community health advocate at MedStar Health.

Paul is one of over 30 non-medical, entry-level associates who work with high-risk patients from vulnerable communities. The community health advocates and peer recovery coaches are based out of four MedStar Health hospitals.

The program has been a success for patients, participants, and clinicians. The community health advocates live in the neighborhoods they serve and are therefore able to connect with patients on a more personal level, says Regional Community Health Program Manager Elizabeth Sebastiao.

Elizabeth says the program is also helping to reduce hospital readmission rates. “Building that relationship of trust makes them feel comfortable opening up and expressing their challenges.”

"They can say to the patients, ‘I’ve been in the same spot and I understand.'"

Since the program began in September 2017, the community health advocates have responded to more than 680 patient encounters, resulting in nearly 4,000 interventions. The peer recovery coaches have worked with more than 280 clients and provided more than 260 referrals to substance abuse resources.

As for our associates, the program has helped them gain confidence about their employment journey and has given them a highly rewarding career path.

"I just feel blessed to be able to do the job and to be able to help people and give people the resources that they need,” says Paul.

Many people are faced with challenging situations when it comes to housing, transportation, employment, and nutrition. MedStar Health is helping bridge the gap for patients like Helen Dalton through programs like our Community Health Advocacy program.

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