As a student in the Baker College Health Navigation Program, part of our course work is to participate in an internship. This internship is to help prepare us for an eventual career as a Navigator. What is a Navigator, you ask? Well, Health Navigators bridge a gap between the chaotic world of health care, the patient, their needs and the needs of their families. We do this by providing resources to things like affordable health insurance or maybe help for addiction issues. Some patients may need home care, healthy food or even help with end of life decision making. Navigators point the way and empower the patient by giving them options that they might not otherwise have available.
With that being said, at the beginning of January, I was lucky enough to be assigned to work with the Wish Upon A Teen organization. At first, I thought, what does this have to do with Navigation? Being an open-minded person and continuously looking for the method to the madness, it wasn’t long before I found out they have plenty to do with Navigation but, not in the traditional sense I’d been studying in the classroom. This place goes beyond the traditional pencil-pushing, number crunching, over grown masses of paperwork that is associated with most organizations that provide help to patients. Believe me, paperwork happens but no one but those at the very core see that aspect of this amazingly successful non-profit group.
What these people do and what everyone gets to see is the absolute joy they bring to teens and their families through their programs. Many of these folks are going through the darkest and most unsure part of their lives. To have someone like Wish Upon A Teen come in and decorate a room with the teen’s favorite things brings a dimension to health care that is truly caring. That, dear reader, is a rare sight in the world of health care today.
When I explain what I’m doing to others during my internship, I often get asked the question; What do you get out of it? I can honestly say that I get the satisfaction of seeing the smiles on these teen’s faces and know that, just for a short time, this type of care is helping them forget, even for a little while, how sick they really are and that someone else is on their side and rooting for their return to wellness.