Resource Navigator Program

Wingra Family Medical Center Resource Navigation Program

student resource navigators

When I was a physician-in-training…, I first met ‘Patient Ruth’…. Her feet were swollen, she wore flimsy house shoes, and raw leg ulcers made walking painful. She’d been to the emergency room many times, and we gave her the usual treatment – a few hours in a warm bed, some antibiotics, a decent meal. The next morning she limped back to the same problems she had before: no home, no job, lousy food, no family or friends to come to her aid. We were not equipped to protect her from her harsh world outside the hospital, which was destroying her health and shortening her life.”

 

– Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Former President and CEO, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

What if clinics were equipped with a system to help Ruth meet her basic needs?Wingra3

We are trying to do just this!

Wingra Family Medical Center and Northeast Family Medical Center have begun asking their patients whether they want help meeting basic needs (like transportation, food, jobs, childcare) that we know impact their health. Students work with patients to help them connect with needed community resources and follow-up with them regularly to help them stay healthy. Students learn about the important links between basic needs and health, interact directly with patients to help them meet their needs and learn important patient advocacy skills. Law and pre-law students are on hand to help patients with health harming legal needs. Patients get someone to partner with as they navigate through the web of social service and legal systems. As one patient described it: “Well it makes me feel like someone cares. That I have support. It helps me, it motivates me to thrive and do better for me and my daughter with the help that I’m provided…”

 

There are many ways undergraduate and graduate students can get involved- providing resource and legal navigation, conducting program evaluation, or helping with special projects. Contact our Lane Hanson, our Program Coordinator, to learn more lane@patientpartnerships.org.