March 13, 2017 | Diversity / Patient Stories
Building partnerships is the key to successfully meeting community needs. Organizations that work together enact change that could be difficult to accomplish alone. The partnership between Mountain Park and Island Liaison began over five years ago and has improved the health of the Marshallese community in the Valley.
“About seven-years ago a former Mountain Park Board member, Zeenat Hassan, introduced Claudia Kaercher and Island Liaison to Mountain Park in an effort to find a medical home for Micronesian community members,” Essen Otu, Senior Director of Diversity and Community Affairs said.
Claudia, President of the nonprofit organization, vowed to give Pacific Islanders living in Arizona a place to go for various services and educational needs. One main focus area was to find a healthcare organization to partner with in order to provide care to the growing population while also eliminating roadblocks.
“I looked at many community centers in the area but Mountain Park was the one that felt right in my gut,” Claudia said. “They opened up their arms to me and embraced us all.”
Helping Each Other Thrive
The initial meeting with Essen sealed the deal and made the partnership a reality.
“I remember Claudia coming and asking, ‘Is Mountain Park a place where we can build a relationship and begin to establish a level of trust that we would feel good enough to refer the folks in our community to,’” Essen recalled.
Of course the answer was yes! Our staff began to understand the community and learn where they were coming from, what the cultural nuances were and what linguistic barriers stood in the way.
“We knew that if we invested more time in connecting with our community, we could improve the overall health of that community,” Essen explained.
Time has shown the love and respect Marshallese patients have for Mountain Park. Since we started working with Island Liaison, we’ve been able to serve 138 Marshallese and Chuukese families.
Tilda Jesse came to Arizona from the Marshall Islands in 2009.
“When I first arrived, I was kind of sick,” Tilda told us. “I heard about Mountain Park helping the Marshallese community and started seeing Dr. Sy to get my health on track. I started doing what she wanted me to do and now my health is really good. I’m thankful for her and all the people here. That is why I wanted to help Claudia introduce more patients to Mountain Park.”
Claudia and Tilda work together to educate the Marshallese community about staying healthy, and they recommend Mountain Park as a primary healthcare facility.
“Word is spreading about Mountain Park,” Tilda said. “When we started coming, there were about 20 Marshallese patients. Now you see them in the waiting rooms, and they’re coming all the way from places like Guadalupe and Surprise.”
From the all-inclusive care, discount programs and friendly staff, people come from all over because they trust Mountain Park and love the resources we provide.
Why Mountain Park?
Serving communities who face financial, geographic, language and cultural barriers—to name a few—is a great benefit to our healthcare system. Through our integrated healthcare model we help reduce costly emergency, hospital, and specialty care visits which improves our patients overall health and saves money. According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, organizations like Mountain Park save the healthcare system $24 billion a year nationally.
“It makes me so happy because our people are now coming here and getting the care they need, where before they had nowhere to go,” Tilda said.
Mountain Park has the reputation of patients becoming employees. We have several team members from the Pacific Islands now working in our clinics.
“We have folks that come here and see a familiar face from their community, someone who understands the background and implications of care,” Essen explained. “It’s important to make that additional bridge and we’re doing it.”
It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do—Mountain Park strives to be the most welcoming and inclusive organization it can be for everyone. Our door is open to all looking for a medical clinic to call home.
“Where we are now is because of Mountain Park, Zeenat and Essen,” Claudia concluded. “With much gratitude and appreciation I thank you and hope to continue furthering our partnership.”
To schedule an appointment call (602) 243-7277 today.
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