Meet our Members!

Name: Sandra Moise
Position: Refugee Health Associate
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
College: CUNY – Brooklyn College
Why did you join PHC? To be exposed to the public health field, to gain experience, to establish a solid network of professionals, and to meet awesome people like my fellow members!!
What are your future plans? Working using the experience I gained as a PHC member and heading to grad school.
What is one thing you would change about health care? Eliminate disparities that cause certain groups to be ineligible for free Medicaid when they should be AND change  health care from being a profitable business and extra complicated system to a system that is kinks free and transparent where everybody can have access to a doctor for important health complications (without having a monstrous bill waiting for them after) and basic things like a physical, vision, hearing, dentist, etc. Let’s look at other countries, I think we can take their systems as an example and formulate it to make it work for all Americans. Basic health care should not be a luxury for Americans…if everybody is required to pay local and state tax from their paychecks, how come they shouldn’t be required to pay a health care tax just so that everyone should have access to health care?

Because we all want to know…
Patient population that you’re newly exposed to/learning more about?
 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal, Karen and Chin refugees from Burma, Darfuri refugees from Sudan, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees
Typical packed lunch? Whatever I had for dinner: Rice and chicken? Pasta? Nigerian food? Whatever was leftover from a luncheon (usually Kosher) at work the day before!
Funniest PHC memory? Soha doing the “Soha dance” for the first time! HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Favorite place in the city? Fairmount Park!! It’s better than Central Park!!!

Why I Love PHC

Ever since I learned about AmeriCorps in 2009, I knew this is something I wanted to do. When I got accepted into PHC last year, I was extremely excited because I had so many expectations and I knew I was about to have the ultimate experience I have been yearning for. As someone who wants to work in the Global health field very soon, my PHC site is perfect. I always say that working with the Refugee Health program in Philadelphia Resettlement Agencies is the perfect way for me to work in the Global Health field WITHOUT traveling abroad (and I do want to do that by the way).

Now, ten months later, I am almost at the end of my services. I gained heaps and heaps of invaluable experiences that were just ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! I work with refugees during the first few months they arrive in the United States. I remembered when I first arrived to the US as an immigrant at the age of nine; consequently I am reliving that experience every day through my clients (especially the minors).

This must be the reason why I take my position so seriously. Some days I cannot go home until I am sure that the work I need to do on a client’s behalf is completely done. Sometimes, working with people who constantly rely on me can be time consuming, frustrating, and daunting. This is especially the case when they are dealing with problems that are beyond my control. Nonetheless, I have stories for days of the reasons why I love my position and the reasons why, if you’re like me, you would want to drop what you’re doing and try to help my refugee clients as much as you can. Here are just a few of examples of these stories…

-During a follow up visit at the doctor with the very first family whom I started to work with, the youngest member, a 5-year-old little Burmese girl, insisted on holding my hand and sticking with me during the entire appointment. This is when I knew that I was no longer a stranger to her. While escorting them home after, it started raining so I gave my little friend my umbrella. A couple of seconds later I noticed I wasn’t feeling the rain; her older sister came next to me so we could share an umbrella together (this is when you should go awwwww!!). The pinnacle of this sweet story? When we got to the house, my little friend said “thank you,” gave me a HUGE hug around my knees and ran off while her 7-year-old brother gave me a high five J .

-Picture this:  I am sitting in a waiting room during Refugee Clinic hours surrounded by a group of Bhutanese/Nepali children while we all watch a Nepali movie on YouTube on my phone. Later, the same group of kids are playing with American kids and having a ball even though they do not speak the same language.

-A 15 month old kissing my hands and cheeks and laughing while on the bus on the way to an appointment.

-Taking a group of Darfuri refugees to a “Walk against Hate” and a health fair and seeing how much everybody enjoyed the outing (the kids loved the playground I took them to after.)

-Seeing a former client on the streets while helping a new arrival and them telling you “Thank you for helping society“ (These were his exact words, not mine.)

-In November, realizing that the 9-year-old Bhutanese boy who came in August and did not speak English is now answering the questions the doctors are asking him in very good English. Not only that, but he was asking me a million questions and begging to be allowed to play on my phone!

THIS is why I love my Philadelphia Health Corps position, the reason why I will be a PHC member for life, and the reason why I will continue on my journey to the Global Health field with confidence and enthusiasm – PHC!!!!! (Chaz cheerleading voice)!

-Sandra Moise, Refugee Health Associate

Meet our Members!

Name: Lisa Stepelevich
Position: Health and Fitness Advocate at Penrose Elementary
Hometown: Broomall, PA
College: University of Pittsburgh
Why did you join PHC? To help people get healthy!
What are your future plans? Graduate school for counseling psychology with a focus in health psychology
What is one thing you would change about health care? Better access for everyone and more focus on prevention rather than treatment!

Because we all want to know…
Typical packed lunch? 
A peanut butter banana cinnamon sandwich on wheat bread-I find that the kids have the most difficulty discerning what exactly I am eating when I bring this sandwich in.
#1 most played song on your iPod? Nicki Minaj “Super Bass” because who doesn’t want to hear that song in the morning or afternoon when they need to get pumped up?
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for? Scary Spice- I’ve been dealing with this issue since 6th grade.
If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I wasn’t sure. I asked Soha, she said something in the purple family. Seeing as how she would know best, I chose magenta.

Run!

“Run! Come on, run!”
“Let’s go!”
“Stop walking!”

I cannot count on one hand how many times I have yelled these phrases. From the first day at my site I found myself having to rally my students with these enthusiastic and undoubtedly irksome statements. Before I started serving I had never run more than three miles. With that minimal running experience, I began as a running leader for Students Run Philly Style at Penrose Elementary. Students Run Philly Style is an organization that trains students (ages 12-18) for the half and full marathon in Philadelphia.  

I suppose it was because of my own uncertainty as a runner, and my responsibility as a running leader, that I found myself encouraging students at the back of the pack.  During practice in the fall I began running (and many times walking) with one particular 12-year-old student during the 2 or 3 or 6 miles the team was expected to run.  At the start of the year, running with him was like pulling teeth. I would run up and down, more than forward, while trying to encourage him to run.  Throughout practice with him we would talk about the school day, family, or something random like favorite foods.  Anything I could think of to keep him distracted while we ran.  However, talking with a shy 7th grader is not as easy as it sounds.  There were many times when we would just run with long silences between us as I tried to think up another question to ask him.  

When it was time for the Philadelphia half-marathon in November, this 7th grader and I ran and walked together for almost four hours. I was probably very annoying to him at times, using all of my trite phrases to urge him to run, but I was not bothersome enough for him to tear away from me in a sprint.  When we finally crossed the finish line I was so proud of him. After all his hard work, he had finished 13.1 miles. While I did not realize at the time, this accomplishment was just a stepping-stone to the development of his confidence and self-esteem.  Over the next few months, he seemed to be coming out of his shell.  When the season started back up in March, we began training for the Broad Street Run, a ten-mile race.  During the practices leading up to Broad Street, the changes in this 7th grader really began to manifest.  He was encouraging the other students to run and added a goofy element to practice when he would yell something silly like “I got my money on you!”

On May 6th, 2012, he and I ran Broad Street together. He ran the entire race. Unlike the half-marathon or during other practices in the fall, he did not stop once to walk.  While he was not the fastest runner, he finished running.  It was amazing! I saw him in September struggling with two miles and come May he was running ten miles straight through.  This physical improvement had not developed alone, but in conjunction with a mental improvement. I think he understands better now what he can accomplish and it is so rewarding to have witnessed that progression. On May 20th, 2012, he and I finished a 5K together. Running the entire race, he achieved his goal of finishing under 50 minutes.  At the end of this race, we had something more to celebrate than just crossing the finish line. Over seven months, he and I ran exactly 26.2 miles together, a full marathon.  While running up to this number, I was able to see a student really impacted by running at Penrose within the Students Run program. I am so happy I was given the opportunity to become a running leader and work with my students at Penrose. This was just one of the many amazing experiences I have enjoyed during my year at school and I am hoping to fit in many more before I have to leave!

-Lisa Stepelevich, Health and Fitness Advocate

Meet our Members!

Name: Edinah T. Chikunguwo
Position: Insurance Specialist
Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe and Richmond, VA
College: Howard University; Biology & Psychology
Why did you join PHC? I joined PHC to be involved in a healthcare “job” while volunteering my time to those who needed it. I expect to gain knowledge about public health, as well as getting a deeper understanding of insurance policies.
What are your future plans? Medical school
What is one thing you would change about health care? I would make healthcare more accessible to those who cannot afford private health coverage, and emphasize the importance of preventive medicine.

Because we all want to know…
Favorite thing about Philly? I lived in Washington, DC for six years, and Philly is turning out to be a good alternative to D.C. Philadelphia is a relaxed version of D.C. Philadelphia is definitely more quaint, especially the University City and Northern Liberties areas.
Typical packed lunch? For the past three months, Lean Cuisine was my lunch of choice, but I have transitioned to Trader Joe’s salads and wraps
If you were a crayon, what color would you be? If I were a crayon, I would be pink, preferably hot pink.
Funniest PHC memory? The funniest PHC moment occurred at the PHC Member Retreat. Lisa S. challenged me to do cartwheels/roundoffs. As a past gymnast, I readily accepted the challenge. Midway in the air with my legs upward in a split, I hear the unmistakable sound of fabric splitting. My scrub pants were a bit snug; my pants had split straight down the center seam!

 

Philadelphia Health Corps is MY Community

I serve as an Insurance Specialist in the Philadelphia Health Corps (PHC) at Health Center 10 which is part of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.  As an Insurance Specialist, my responsibility is to increase the percentage of insured patients that visit the health center. I interview patients who are uninsured to determine eligibility of medical insurance programs. My service position places an emphasis on coordinating enrollment of newborns and prenatal patients to promote the Pennsylvania Healthy Beginnings program. I am responsible for bridging the gap between prenatal patients who had Health Center 10 as their primary care provider (PCP) during their antepartum care, and the continuous use of Health Center 10 as the PCP for their newborns.

In addition to service at my site, I also serve on the PHC’s Professional Development Committee.  The committee is responsible for organizing trainings during our monthly member training meetings. I am responsible for the June training which will focus on mental health.  Thus far, the committee has planned HIV/AIDS, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Cultural Competency, and Workplace Personality Assessment trainings.  In addition to planning monthly member trainings, the committee has been planning the second annual ‘Philadelphia Health Corps – Speed Networking Event’.  This is mentorship opportunity for PHC members that will allow them to interact with manifold healthcare professionals.  For this event, I am responsible for the acquisition of food donations from local establishments.  So far, I have secured food donations from Tootsie’s Salad Express, Market Bakery and Allegro’s Pizza in University City.

As a member of the Philadelphia Health Corps I have many responsibilities at my service site and committee, which can sometimes be overwhelming.  However, the past eight months of being an AmeriCorps member has reinforced my endurance, time management skills, patience, selflessness, and most of all my affection to help disadvantaged populations.  As a service member, I have continued to be self-reliant without forgetting that I am a viable entity within a community composed of college graduates improving the accessibility of healthcare services to those who are medically underserved in the Philadelphia area. I continuously receive positive energy from my fellow Philadelphia Health Corps members, the staff at my service site, and the patients at Health Center 10.  I am happy to belong to the benevolent, supportive community of the Philadelphia Health Corps!

-Edinah Chikunguwo, Insurance Specialist

Meet our Members!

Name: Chaz Shelton
Position: Patient Assistance Program Advocate
Hometown: Holland, MI
College: Hope College
Why did you join PHC? To get a better understanding on the disparity in the US healthcare system.
What are your future plans? Business ownership
What is one thing you would change about health care? I would change healthcare to be fully transparent in price. Patients would have full knowledge of all medical treatment and medication before service.
Because we all want to know…
Favorite place in the city? Wissahickon Trail and Forbidden Drive
What would your American Gladiator name be? MULE