Meet our Members!

Name: Maryalice Wolfe
PAP Advocate
Westborough, MA
University of Rochester
Why did you join PHC? I love working in a community health center.
What are your future plans?
Hoping to go to medical school and get a dog, eventually ūüôā
What is one thing you would change about health care?
Cost of insurance!

Because we all want to know…
Favorite SEPTA experience? My favorite SEPTA experience was waiting for my train for so long I forgot which way I was going and got on the first train that came. It was the wrong train. This happened more than once.
Typical packed lunch? Leftovers (from a repeating list of about 5 things that I can cook: pasta, tofu/rice, chili, etc, repeat) plus whatever I can get from the vending machine when I pool my change!
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? Anything that people could not¬†spell wrong! No matter how many times I sign ‚ÄúMaryalice‚ÄĚ my teachers, friends, etc will try to make it¬†MaryAlice, Mary Alice, MaryEllis (not a name!)…
Favorite thing about Philly? The food! An Ameri-Budget does not allow for eating out much, but I’m never disappointed!


A Lesson in Communication

In the Philadelphia Health Corps I am a Prescription Assistance Program Advocate with the Philadelphia Public Health Department. I have learned a lot about the various challenges and joys of working in public health, along with a new found knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance, and the many chronic diseases plaguing communities. While I am gaining and building upon many important skills during my year with the Philadelphia Health Corps, the greatest of these has been my communication skills. Poor communication discourages our patients from coming back, while good communication can mean simply asking the right questions to better understand what a particular patient needs. In my role it is as much about listening, as it is about relaying vital information to our patients.

Communication has been at the root of some of my most frustrating and rewarding experiences.  Like many of the public health centers, ours has a large immigrant population. While interpreters are often on hand to assist us, there are times when someone is out for the day, and we’re having trouble getting through on InterpreTalk. One such day was during my first month in AmeriCorps. A patient who speaks little to no English arrived to pick up their medication, but when I signaled that we needed identification, he emptied his pockets showing me he had nothing on him. I paged the interpreter and found out she was away. I tried to explain that he would have to come back when an interpreter was available, or if he would come into our office we could talk via InterpreTalk, but he was angry, began yelling, and stormed out. I felt terrible turning away a patient, and worse, because I wasn’t sure he understood why he couldn’t receive his medication.

While failures in communication can be hard to navigate, a success with a patient can be extremely gratifying. We have one patient for whom there is no interpreter, and he cannot read English letters or characters. For months, he would show up on random days to see if his medication had arrived or if he needed to sign paperwork for his medication.¬† Finally, one day he decided to show me how to write his medication in his own language so that we could send him letters when it was time to come in. I can often hear him coming around the corner, shouting the name of his medication. When he leaves, a string of ‚Äúthank yous‚ÄĚ follows him out the door.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have this year serving as a Philadelphia Health Corps member. I would like to pursue a career in medicine, and I’m sure my experiences here will make me a better health care professional.

-Maryalice Wolfe, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Meet our Members!

Name: Emily Jones
Position: PAP Advocate
Hometown: Ramsey, New Jersey
The College of New Jersey; psychology
Why did you join PHC? I joined PHC because I wanted to learn more about public health,  and understand and help people overcome the obstacles surrounding access to physical and mental health programs. I knew that I wanted to do a year of service and give back.  I also wanted to get some exposure to a health care facility setting.
What are your future plans?
 Going to graduate school for psychology.  
What is one thing you would change about health care? 
One thing I would change about health care would be to make easier access to mental health and physical health programs for the homeless.

Because we all want to know…
Typical packed lunch? Salad with tuna, cucumbers, sprouts and sometimes sweet potatoes
Favorite SEPTA experience? Getting off the bus only to be surprised by an urban cowboy riding his horse
If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Burnt orange
What is the strangest food you have ever eaten? Grilled octopus, which has since become one of my favorite foods

Breaking the Habit

Procrastinating, overeating, over-exercising, drinking, smoking, playing video games, shopping: we all have ways of dealing with stressful situations, and sometimes our ways of coping can be healthy or detrimental. Going to the extreme with any habit used to counter anxiety can become problematic. Learning a multitude of ways to deal with emotional duress is the best artillery one can have when bombarded with the unexpected.

I have always had an interest in mental health and counseling and because of this I have been given the opportunity to sit in on and even lead several smoking cessation classes at the health center where I serve. Although I lead the sessions on nutrition, a principal topic surrounding the classes is dealing with stress and learning to reprogram oneself from reaching for a cigarette. According to the instructor of the program, smoking is 80% habit, 20% addiction. Therefore, the patches, gum and other aids can only help so much. They suppress the cravings, but the habit remains unless new ways of dealing with boredom, stress, sadness or other emotions are developed. I think that awareness and the concept of mindfulness are both beneficial to breaking a habit or unhealthy way of coping. Seldom do we stop and think why we are reaching for that bag of chips or cigarette. Are we actually hungry for the chips, are they sitting on the table tempting us, are we stressed out or avoiding doing something? By being aware of why we are doing a particular behavior, we can feel a sense of control and perhaps identify and learn to sit with whatever emotional discomfort we may be feeling. This recognition allows us to realize the relationship between a situation and the reaction that follows. Mindfulness does not magically stop overeating or smoking, but it is a beneficial step towards breaking a cycle and developing healthier coping alternatives.

I have some unhealthy habits I am trying to break by applying this concept. However, I would like to highlight one coping skill of mine that serves quite productive considering this past week’s service opportunity at Mount Moriah Cemetery. In celebration of AmeriCorps week, several Philadelphia Health Corps members joined fellow AmeriCorps members in cleaning up the 300-acre cemetery. One of my go-to de-stressing activities in the spring and summer is gardening. I love to rake, pull weeds, plant flowers and enjoy the beautiful weather. This Saturday was a great way to not only improve my own well-being but give back to the community. I even made a friend in the most adorable miniature snake!

-Emily Jones, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Meet our Members!

Name: Stephen Supoyo
Position: Refugee Health Associate
Hometown: New York City
College: University of Rochester
Why did you join PHC? To learn more about those who are medically underserved and to try make a difference, to be more independent, to explore a new city, meet new people, gain clinical experience.
What are your future plans? Medical School.
What is one thing you would change about health care? Implement a Single Payer National Health Insurance system.

Because we all want to know…
Favorite thing about Philly: Students are everywhere, and many amazing medical schools and research centers in one place.
Favorite SEPTA experience:¬†Spotting SEPTA’s unfortunate slogan¬†after waiting more than 45 minutes for the trolley¬†: ‘We’re Getting There’
Something I learned in the last week: The first illegal immigrants in America were the Quakers, banned in 1656; followed by Jews and Catholics in the 1700s.
Funniest PHC memory: PHC pickup lines

Meet our Members!

Name: Cassie Campbell
Position: PAP Advocate
Hometown: Dauphin, PA
College: Albright College; biology
Why did you join PHC?¬†I joined PHC because I had such an amazing experience in my last year of service with AmeriCorps NCCC but I wanted focus more on gaining¬†experience and¬†better¬†knowledge of¬†our¬†health care system while working towards a career in public health. 

Because we all want to know…
Favorite SEPTA experience? A young man named Daniel sat down beside and within the 7 minute trolley ride he had taken my phone (and given it back), rubbed the top of my foot (twice) and gave me a noogie. It was creepy at the time but fun to laugh at now.
What is your favorite thing about Philly? My Favorite thing about Philadelphia is the skyline.
#1 most played song on your iPod? Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight by Amos Lee
What is something you learned in the last week? I’ve realized that I’m terrible with geography so in my down time at work I have been memorizing the countries of the African, European, and South American Continents. I plan to know the globe by next week!
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for? Eva Mendes? Hah! I wish!

Meet our Members!

Name: Kimberly Weller
Position: PAP Advocate
Hometown: Radnor, PA
College: University of Delaware; psychology
Why did you join PHC? I joined PHC because I wanted to give back, and fully immerse myself in service. I also joined PHC for the learning experience. I wanted to learn where community help is needed and develop ideas to help those in need. So far, I have learned far more than I expected.
What are your future plans? Graduate school for a Masters in Public Health and eventually a PhD
What is one thing you would change about health care? I would make it easier for everyone to gain access to health care. I would also implement more health education programs.

Because we all want to know…
Favorite thing about Philly? The craziness, the diversity, and the graffiti
Favorite SEPTA experience? Tall, scary, intimidating man asking for money (wearing a long black female wig).
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for? Amanda Bynes
What is the strangest food you have ever eaten? Ox tail (one of the best foods I’ve ever eaten) and¬†pigs feet ūüė¶
Funniest PHC memory? When we spillled the entire box of inactive patient files all over the room, tisk tisk.