Staff Spotlight: Yesenia Rodriguez helps patients eliminate healthcare barriers
On the surface, quality healthcare is delivered through knowledgeable doctors, timely appointments, and positive patient relationships. Of course, in order to achieve these outcomes, plenty of work must take place “behind the scenes,” to ensure patients receive the care they need. It is no different for the patients of the Physicians CareConnection.
For many central Ohio patients, the process begins with a referral coordinator, such as Yesenia Rodriguez. “Typically, I’m the first point of contact for the patient,” Rodriguez explained.
When patients are referred to PCC’s Free Clinic or Voluntary Care Network, they are often put into contact with Yesenia. Her job is to understand these patients’ individual needs and connect them with the appropriate specialists or services. Whether scheduling follow-up appointments, arranging for diagnostics tests, or providing the transportation to get to a clinic, Yesenia ensures that patients get connected with the care they need.
While visiting the doctor may seem like a straightforward process, many patients struggle with the language, transportation, insurance, or other barriers involved with getting there. For some, these issues are enough to prevent them from seeking care altogether. This is where care coordination comes in.
“It’s (about) trying to navigate through these systems that can seem overwhelming and trying to keep it as simple as possible for them,” Rodriguez explained.
The reality is that the appointments are simply one part of the care process. Effective care often involves many elements outside of the doctor’s office. According to Yesenia, Physicians CareConnection is unique in that their staff focuses on the entire care coordination process.
“You can go to tons of free clinics in Columbus, but what happens when you leave there? What happens with the continuation of your care?”
By assisting patients through the entire care process, PCC is able track outcomes. For Yesenia, nothing is more rewarding than knowing that a patient’s life has been positively impacted by her work.
“I think it’s just (about) taking care of people – treating people like people,” Rodriguez said.
She recounted one specific instance, in which an elderly gentleman was referred to the Physicians Free Clinic to assist with his hearing problems. This man’s hearing loss was negatively impacting his marriage, but Yesenia was able to assist the man in obtaining a hearing aid. This small change had such a positive impact on the man’s marriage, that he and his wife began referring to Yesenia as their “guardian angel.”
“When you see those outcomes in your patients, it’s so touching,” Yesenia said. “I think it’s because we serve the most vulnerable in the community, you can see how things that seem very routine to us make such a huge impact on their lives.”
Yesenia is no stranger to personal challenges associated with seeking medical care. She drew on some of her own experiences with the healthcare system.
“My dad was diagnosed with stage-three esophageal cancer last year, and he went through surgery, chemotherapies, and radiation therapies,” Rodriguez said.
Yesenia explained that her parents, both bilingual Hispanic Americans, quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of medical information, in spite of their language competency.
“I would just think, if I didn’t treat people the way I wanted my parents to be treated, what kind of person would I be?” Rodriguez said.
PCC serves many non-English speaking patients. However, many of their patients are English-speaking lifelong residents of Columbus who have simply never felt the need to see a doctor. Regardless of each patient’s situation, Physicians CareConnection exists to connect them with high-quality medical care. For Yesenia Rodriguez, this mission is personal.
“That’s somebody’s mom – somebody’s dad, aunt, grandma or grandpa that we’re helping,” Rodriguez explained. “If you develop more of a comfortable rapport then you’re more likely to have better outcomes and ask questions.”
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