“It takes time to earn the trust of patients because they’ve been promised things before and found strings attached or were let down,” said Brandi Whisler, director of outpatient services with The Parsons Family Health Center at Circle the City in Phoenix.
The Parsons Family Health Center provides both primary and preventative healthcare for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
“When we’re able to provide [services] and it actually happens, there is a lot of gratitude shown by the patients,” Whisler said.
The services go beyond primary and preventive healthcare. The Parsons Family Health Center provides patients with behavioral health services and substance abuse therapy.
“We meet their healthcare needs because we’re a healthcare facility, but we also have a unique opportunity to be able to meet some of their social needs, housing needs and get them connected to benefits,” Whisler said.
The Parsons Family Health Center is a big proponent of forming partnerships with other healthcare providers in the community.
“We couldn’t do the work without our partners,” Whisler said. “We can’t be all things to all people.
“We have areas of specialties, but colon cancer screenings is not one of those and we have gaps to fill thorough community partnerships,” Whisler continued.
Dr. Elizabeth McConnell at McConnell Colorectal Center in Phoenix is one of their partners.
McConnell’s team is starting to get referrals from The Parsons Family Health Center for patients in need of colon cancer screenings.
“Colon cancer is something we see quite a bit in this population because preventive care screenings are often neglected,” Whisler said. “They have barriers like cost and disconnection with the healthcare community.”
“This screening or diagnostic colonoscopy of course would help us be able to give the information back to [The Parsons Family Health Center],” said Meryl Salit, McConnell Colorectal Center practice administrator. “We can see if the person needs to have any follow-up with Dr. McConnell or another physician.
“If they’re having problems, the doctor might recommend change in diet, lifestyle or they might need surgery,” Salit continued.
McConnell wants to give everyone the same chances when it comes to taking care of their health.
“The doctor has always wanted opportunities to [help] people who don’t normally have access to her care,” said Salit. “She supports nonprofits and educating people on colon cancer.”
A response Whisler likes to hear from community partners.
“When we meet partners in the community who want to give back and are excited to treat the community we work within, we’re excited to partner with them,” Whisler said. “We truly couldn’t do the work that we do without our partners.”