Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Volunteering at the Caring Place Clinic

Working at the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV), the clinics at Casa Guadalupe and the Caring Place,  is one of the highlights of my time at Muhlenberg. I love going there every week. I am always amazed by how much the staff there cares for each other and the patients. They really see themselves as people building community and fighting for social justice in the Lehigh Valley. I do feel that what we do helps to create community and bring services to people who cannot otherwise get access. Most of our patients are uninsured or under-insured. Many of them are immigrants and do not speak very much English. I started in the clinics because I speak both Spanish and English. It has been so helpful for me to practice the language and so great for them that I can work with Spanish-speaking patients. 
When I go to the clinic I assist both the medical and the clerical staff. To help the medical staff, I take patients to the exam rooms and take their vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.). I also make sure to get a brief medical history from each person. As my Spanish has improved, I also interpret between doctors and patients. Sometimes I even shadow the nurses and doctors. It is amazing to see them work. I usually spend time each day working with the clerical staff as well, especially calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. Sometimes I call other service providers in the Lehigh Valley to help our patients get the resources they need, especially if there is a language barrier. It is amazing to see how important even the few hours a week I spend at the clinics are for the staff. They love all of the volunteers and see them as an integral part of their team. It is a wonderful community to be a part of!
- Rachel Kitch, '11