News

February 22, 2019

Interview with Community Check-Up Staff

Every Monday from 1:00 – 5:00 pm, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Lydia Strickhouser performs a wide array of services for children and young adults ages birth to 21 years old at the Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center as part of Community Check-Up.

These include:

  • Asthma and Allergy Care
  • Check-Ups
  • Driver Permit Physicals
  • Hearing and Vision Screens
  • Lead and Anemia Screens
  • School and Flu Shots
  • Sports Physicals
  • WIC forms

To schedule an appointment, contact:

  • Lisa Drake | 412.310.7114

Her job is to schedule pediatric appointments, remind parents and caregivers about upcoming visits, and inform families in the area about services.

 

Interview

We interviewed Lisa and Lydia to learn more about their experience working Community Check-Up as far as what they do, how they’ve grown, and what it’s like building relationships with the families.

 

First, tell us more about Community Check-Up and your roles within it.
  • Lydia: Community Check-Up has been going on since October 2017. On average, we see five to seven patients each Monday afternoon, and eight is the maximum. Technically, children only need to be seen once per year for check-ups, but families can come as often as needed. We offer follow-up appointments for specific concerns like weight or blood pressure checks. It’s really about the needs of the patient. In addition to seeing patients for all the different types of appointments, I also work with them in social and behavioral health as well. A lot of research shows how the social disparities a person faces significantly influence people’s physical and mental health, so it’s important that I assess each family’s needs in a comprehensive way. This includes making sure they have adequate food and asking about other concerns like employment and child care. All of these factors affect their outcomes.

 

  • Lisa: Having this clinic in the heart of Homewood helps minimize transportation as a potential barrier. Some of our families who come in live within walking distance, and the Center provides transportation services for those who need help getting to the appointments. My goal at the Center is to support the parents in bringing their children to appointments. Community Check-Up started as an initiative to decrease the no-show rate of Homewood children at doctor’s appointments by bringing services closer to them, and it has been much more convenient for the families. On top of scheduling the appointments and doing outreach in the community, my job is to look out for certain things. Parents and children both have needs, and I work to assess them and connect families with the necessary resources.
What was your first impression of the Center?
  • Lydia: I hadn’t realized that the Center would be a house. I assumed the building would be more square and colder, but because it’s a house, it’s like you’re walking into someone’s home. The environment is open, warm, and inviting, and it’s helpful to be able to give patients care in this type of environment. I got into this position because of my work in community health. The previous doctor moved out of state, so I was approached about working here, and I fell in love.

 

  • Lisa: I found out about Community Check-Up when I was called about my son’s doctor’s appointment and asked if it would be helpful to bring him here instead of the Oakland location. My uncle used to live in this house before it became a family support center. I was excited to take this position because as a parent, I know how much of a difference having these services in Homewood has made for me, and I want to share that with other families here in the community. Getting to the Oakland location was difficult to manage with my son’s school schedule and transportation difficulties. I had to take two buses to get there. I understand how hard it can be to get your children to their doctor’s  appointments and how easy it can be to fall behind on immunizations. Working here at the center as a community peer advocate gave me the ability to help parents with the same areas that were difficult for me.
What can caregivers and children expect when coming to Community Check-Up?
  • Lisa: Respect, comfortability, and a warm environment. We are interested in the parents’ and their children’s wellbeing, so we work with them to uncover their needs and any things that may hinder them from getting to the appointments, such as issues with housing, food, and water. We ask what we can do to help, and we are genuinely concerned about them. It’s more than just a check-up.

 

  • Lydia: In addition to asking social questions about each family and getting the forms and consents we need, we also have normal conversations with the parents. We are careful to not be accusatory, but instead we are supportive in gauging situations so that families get the best help.
How have the families impacted you?
  • Lydia: Working with the families has changed how I ask questions and encouraged me to show more understanding when parents don’t get their children to appointments. Also, I have become more realistic in my tests and referrals, and my approach to medicine in general. I can order 50 tests and make 10 referrals, but maybe this patient can only do one of each. Again, social disparities are so important in determining health and behavioral outcomes. Through this role I’ve learned to be sensitive while still getting an honest answer.

 

  • Lisa: Working here has helped me learn how to approach families, especially those headed by single parents. As we mentioned before, it’s important not to be accusatory towards parents who need support. People are so quick to judge situations they know nothing about, and we shouldn’t be one of those people. I’ve learned that you never know what a person is dealing with, so I have made it a point to be more understanding, more patient, and more helpful. This role has made me want to help people as much as I can.
What do you find most satisfying about your interactions with families? What is most challenging?
  • Lisa: The most satisfying part of my job is seeing results and seeing them show up. Nothing makes me happier than them showing up. There are chaotic days when everyone is here at once, and there’s children everywhere, but I love that. We have really mannerable kids here. The most challenging part is wanting to satisfy the parents and families, and making sure they have everything they need. The most important part of getting to know the families is building trust and comfortability. We have to establish communication that is open and long. When I call parents, I do more than just remind them of their appointment I feel good when they open up to me and feel safe enough to tell me what’s going on, and I am proud of being available to help them and give them feedback.

 

  • Lydia: Watching the children’s growth and development is the reason I got into pediatrics in the first place. It’s neat to see how much the kids progress, especially the little ones three and under, who come in more often, every two to three months. I love getting to talk to the kids individually, finding out their goals, seeing them get taller, and asking them about school. The most challenging part for me is the amount of paperwork and charting that I have to do. It’s important to me to maintain the relationships with the families and not focus solely on the computer. Usually, I will put in four hours of work before coming in and three to four hours afterwards. It’s a full day, but it allows me to focus on the parents and kids  while they are here.
Are there any changes you see in the parents as they come back with their kids for appointments?
  • Lydia: Sometimes parents get more relaxed after a while. It’s nice to see their comfort and familiarity with Lisa and me. The kids love the toys, and it’s a very friendly environment.

 

  • Lisa: I noticed that a couple parents who used to miss appointments with their child are on it now. The consistency has grown.
Is there anything else that you want the families to know?
  • Lydia: Just that we’re here, 1:00-5:00 p.m. You can show up just to talk if you need to. Though we need to know ahead of time to prepare for appointments, I am able to talk to you about any concerns you have or to look up immunization records if needed.