In 2022, social worker Lisa LeBlanc rejoined the Greater Seacoast Community Health (GSCH) team for her dream job as the Mobile Health Care Coordinator. She started with Families First in 2015 where she worked in the colorectal cancer prevention program and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program as well as in care coordination. After a brief departure, LeBlanc found that her heart was truly in community health care. She was fortunate that a position on the Mobile Health team opened up so she could return to the organization that she loved.
“It’s wonderful to be back amongst like-minded people who have that flame of passion for the work that we do,” she said. “I love my job.”
LeBlanc enjoys supporting people in need of health care as well as focusing on the best interest of the patients. She explained how GSCH staff help patients get insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or Medicaid. And for those who can’t get insurance, the organization offers a sliding fee scale based on income.
“The uniqueness about community health is that we don’t turn people away. That makes me feel good,” LeBlanc said.
The Mobile Health program has two vans, named Marge and Jennie, which currently travel to locations in Dover, Rochester, Exeter, and Portsmouth to provide care to those who may not otherwise be able to access it. As the team’s care coordinator and social worker, LeBlanc has a variety of roles. Part of her job is helping patients fill out forms and releases to receive health care and other services both from the staff and other community and government resources, and making sure they understand what they are signing. She also helps connect Mobile Health patients to different community resources including food distribution, transportation assistance, insurance assistance, and recovery programs.
In addition, she is a member of the Community Care Team, a group of representatives from approximately 50 local non-profit and government organizations who all serve the same vulnerable population that the Mobile Health Team does. These organizations include municipal welfare departments, VNAs, and hospitals. The team meets to share resources and information to learn from each other about how to better serve the population that they work with.
With the help of generous donations and a team of volunteers, LeBlanc is able to meet the different needs of the mobile health patients by providing them with hygiene products, clothing, snacks, and water. The local food security organization, Gather, provides hot meals for the mobile health team to hand out to those who need them. LeBlanc pointed out how by providing these hot meals helps the Mobile Health team build trust and rapport with the patients so they are able to provide the care that they need.
“Lisa is the center of making that all happen. She is the heart of what we do,” said Coreen Toussaint RN, the Mobile Health Program Manager.
Toussaint and LeBlanc emphasized that one of the most important things the mobile health team does is provide patients with a supportive and welcoming environment without any judgement. Many patients have had negative experiences with health care so there is a lack of trust with health care providers.
LeBlanc pointed out that when the Mobile Health Team first started holding clinics outside of the Willand Emergency Warming Shelter in Somersworth, only one person from the shelter came to the van. Once that trust was established, word of mouth spread and the next time, six people came into the van for care.
Depending on the patient and the care they need, the mobile health team may encourage patients to visit Families First or Goodwin Community Health, the health centers operated by Greater Seacoast Community Health in Portsmouth and Somersworth. But some patients may prefer to continue to receive mobile health services. LeBlanc said she leaves it up to the patients. She has one Mobile Health patient that she follows up with on a weekly basis.
LeBlanc and Toussaint agree that it can be challenging and disappointing to not be able to meet every need that they see. The Mobile Health team has regular check-in meetings to discuss the ups and downs of the work they do.
“For me, peer support is huge,” said LeBlanc. She remembered talking to a medical provider about how she was worried about a patient and the provider told her, “Lisa, we have to support ourselves as much as we support the people we serve. Every day, you are making a different for at least one person.”