August 2023 | Issue No. 17
Senior Director of Healthcare Dr. Veronica X. Vela Brings Her Health Equity Expertise to PCC
The Primary Care Coalition (PCC) has named Dr. Veronica X. Vela its Senior Director of Healthcare Access. She brings strong academic credentials, work experience, and a passion for social justice and equity to the role. She has devoted her career to improving patient experiences, access, outcomes, and equity.
In her new role with PCC, Dr. Vela oversees teams that work in collaboration with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and local health center executive directors that serve patients in the Montgomery Cares and Care for Kids programs. Together these programs and organizations ensure that uninsured individuals in Montgomery County have access to primary and behavioral healthcare; specialty care; regular screenings for cancer, diabetes, and hypertension; needed medications, and some dental care.
Workforce Pilot Produces 40% Increase in Training Reach
Sixty percent of respondents to a McKinsey & Company survey listed “clinical support staff coverage” as an enduring pandemic challenge. Workforce limitations – including both nursing and support staff – prompted 58% of respondents to adjust patient care models and 48% to accept fewer patients. Those responses are bad news for quality healthcare access, which is why the Primary Care Coalition (PCC) and our Nexus Montgomery Regional Partnership (Nexus Montgomery) partners have made rebuilding local healthcare workforce capacity a priority.
In Fiscal Year 2023, we launched a pilot project with the American Muslim Senior Society (AMSS) to expand their existing training program with support from WorkSource Montgomery. AMSS launched its healthcare workforce training program after realizing that many of the seniors it serves through its meal delivery program also need home health care options, particularly from people who can meet their cultural and linguistic needs.
The program recruits un- and under-employed young adults in our county to train as entry-level health care workers capable of serving our diverse population. It’s a win-win for patients, the health care system, and community members—providing culturally appropriate patient care, saving health care systems the premium they often pay agencies to fill their staffing gaps, and offering workers a pathway to long-term health care careers.
During the pilot period, PCC and AMSS were able to train 68 people in technical health care roles, resulting in 19 certified nursing assistants, 16 certified in other allied health care roles, and eight people employed as certified nursing assistants by the end of the project period. WorkSource funding supported 29 of the 68 people trained, increasing the program’s capacity by more than 40%. The pilot continues in this fiscal year, with a goal of training 15 more CNAs and 10 more certified medical technicians by December 2023.
Don’t Miss PCC’s Storytelling Show For an Evening of Heartfelt Entertainment
The Primary Care Coalition’s annual Storytelling Show is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15, at AMP by Strathmore, located at Pike & Rose, 11810 Grand Park Avenue (4th Floor), North Bethesda, MD 20852. This year’s fundraising event celebrates the culmination of the nonprofit organization’s 30th anniversary. The theme is “Stronger Together,” underscoring the impact individuals can have when they come together for a bigger cause.
The Storytelling show highlights stories like you’ve never heard before, as told by PCC staff and partners. Few shows elicit as much confidence in our humanity and leave audiences feeling good about the community we live in as this annual entertainment event.
The stories told on stage are sometimes funny, often irreverent, a lot heartfelt, and completely unique.
In last year’s show, Stephanie Narayanan, PCC’s Director of Development and External Relations, recalled what it was like a decade ago when she received the news that her mother had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“I didn’t need my public health degree to know that was some seriously bad news. I mean, I’d seen Wit. Emma Thompson was amazing, and they left no room for a sequel. I would have bet money that my mom’s journey would be similar – albeit less cinematic,” said Narayanan. Fortunately, her mother survived.
“All these years later, my mom's not here because of one hero doctor. She has some combination of treatment advances and private insurance and wildly good luck to thank for that. There were all these systems of diagnosis and referral that weren’t just capable of working for her, but they actually did.”
“Now I'm a fundraising professional for an organization that's much more about stitching together the strongest possible safety net than it is about those individual doctor visits, and I spend my days explaining why this matters so much. And I don't tell it very often, but my mom’s is usually the story in my head,” said Narayanan.
August 29, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Adaptive (seated) Qi Gong and Tai Ji Quan is a form of meditative movement. Hosted by Independence Now and Disability Partnerships via Zoom. Register here.
August 30, 10:30-11:00 a.m., Outdoor Family Storytime, Kensington Park Library. Bring a blanket and enjoy family storytime under the sun, featuring books, songs, and rhymes that promote early literacy skills. In the event of inclement weather, storytime will be moved indoors.
August 31, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Master Gardener Plant Clinic, in-person, Wheaton Library. Bring plant cuttings, insect samples, and questions about trees, shrubs, lawns, flowers, and vegetables. Trained Master Gardeners from the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Service can offer expert advice.
September 5, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Living Positively with Chronic Pain, peer support group meeting for individuals directly affected by chronic pain. Hosted by Independence Now via Zoom. Register here.
September 6, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Fall Twilight Concert Series, Wednesdays in September at Brookside Gardens. Admission is free. Bring your chair or blanket. Food trucks will be available.
September 30, 8:30 a.m., Lace up the running shoes and walk, jog, stroll and roll in support of giving every baby and growing family the best possible start in life at CCI's Run Baby Run 5K! at Wheaton Regional Park - 2000 Shorefield RD, Silver Spring, MD, 20902. Register here.