Going to the doctor is usually never an enjoyable experience we look forward to. Children learn this fear at an early age – hoping to avoid potential needles and bad-tasting medicine. As we grow older, we learn to fear the diagnosis or the health advice we don’t want hear.
Many times, however, it can be a worry just trying to remember or understand all the information the doctor imparts – in complex medical terms – and being able to follow those instructions. Samost JFCS is now offering a remedy to this very dilemma: Patient Partners.
The Patient Partners program will pair trained volunteers with senior citizens to accompany the patient to his / her doctor appointments. The volunteer will be trained to record, relay and share the information of the visits with the patient and the patient’s family, if needed. The advocate will help decipher the medical jargon, and act as a support person to the patient.
“This program is a necessity. Many patients are lost without the advocate, and lost within all the doctor terminology. It helps them to have a supportive person by their side, to relieve the burden. The patients who use Patient Partners are more confident and empowered,” says Suzi Abrams, RN, program coordinator for Patient Partners at Samost JFCS. “When there are treatments, medications, appointments, therapy, surgeries all possibly being discussed simultaneously, it can be simply overwhelming – especially for seniors,” says Abrams.
Since the program’s inception, patients who have used Patient Partners are finding better outcomes from their appointments, with an increased commitment to treatment plans and medication regimens, and a much-improved understanding of their health matters. “Having a liaison available to the patient can make all the difference,” says Abrams.
The program was conceived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Samost JFCS is one of the first agencies in the area to launch it in the Northeast. The Patient Partners program is now accepting and training volunteer advocates to accompany patients to medical appointments. Training covers common health issues, medical terminology, honing listening and communication skills with medical personnel, and confidentiality and ethics. Those interested in volunteering should contact Suzi Abrams at 856-424-1333, xt. 3273.