PCC wraps up 25 years of caring
For a quarter-century, the Physicians CareConnection (PCC) has been serving Central Ohio through a variety of free medical services and outreach programs, with the overall goal of providing effective care coordination for Columbus’ vulnerable populations.
“Care coordination involves considering all the factors that prevent our patients from realizing better health outcomes, not simply their physical symptoms or medical conditions,” Christianna Barnard, office coordinator for PCC, explained.
What began in the mid-90s as a volunteer clinic, has evolved into an organization with numerous programs, each aimed at addressing different patient needs. These services often extend beyond the doctor’s office.
“It’s not enough to simply schedule an appointment for someone. We consider all the barriers facing our patients. For example, if a patient lacks the transportation to get to an appointment or cannot communicate with a physician without a translator, we provide those services,” Barnard said.
The Physicians Free Clinic – located at 240 Parsons Avenue – served over 2,000 patients in 2017 and continues to provide care. In addition to this program, PCC also connects pregnant women with parental care resources through Ohio’s StepOne program.
“StepOne is an initiative to address the infant mortality rate in Franklin county. Each of the programs that we have has a shared goal – care coordination – even if the way we achieve that or the population we serve varies from program to program,” Barnard said.
Whether connecting women with parental care or visiting patients for in-home care, PCC seeks to fill the care-gap facing many patients in Central Ohio.
“What I find most rewarding about my job is how we are able to help our patients,” Yesenia Rodriguez, a care coordinator for PCC, said. “I have learned through my years at PCC that 9 times out of 10 there is something bigger going on when a patient is non-compliant.”
Rodriguez recounted an experience of assisting a patient who struggled with completing his annual enrollment paperwork. Even though these forms were necessary for him to receive the proper medical care, he repeatedly failed to complete and return them.
“From my point of view, I was seeing all the help and services we were providing to this patient and how he wouldn’t comply with the simple request of filling out his paperwork,” Rodriguez explained.
After years of working with this patient, Rodriguez says she eventually asked him why he wouldn’t comply with the simple task of filling out the forms.
“He finally trusted me enough to let me know that he was unable to read,” she said.
According to Barnard, the Physicians Free Clinic faces similar challenges when screening patients. In many cases, doctors are not prepared to address these communication barriers.
“The care we provide for patients varies dramatically from one person to the next depending on their needs,” Barnard said.
With the help of translators and other healthcare professionals, PCC works with patients to navigate these communication barriers. According to Barnard, these challenges are not unique to the free clinic and physicians need to address issues of inequality in the broader healthcare system.
“Since beginning my work here, I can’t listen to NPR without recognizing how changes in healthcare and public policy play out in the lives of our patients,” Barnard said. “Much of what can be learned here is not taught in med schools due to curricular constraints, so a certain amount of self-education can be a huge help in building understanding.”
The Physicians CareConnection was recently recognized as a recipient of OANO’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing the rigorous voluntary accreditation program. The Seal of Excellence is awarded to a small number of non-profits each year in recognition of a commitment to integrity and ethical principles in their governance, finances, and work in the community. This distinction represents PCC’s compliance with the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.
“As the accreditation process involves extensive evaluations and peer-reviews, it allows our community partners and funders to feel confident in their choice to work with us and support our mission,” Barnard said.
PCC encourages community members and medical professionals to get involved with their Voluntary Care Network. More information can be found at the following pages: