NCHEC is extremely proud of the many health CHES® and MCHES® who serve as essential personnel in the continual fight against this global pandemic. They have assumed critical roles in the identification, control, and assurance of the needs of individuals and communities. They advocate fiercely for public protection measures, and support many other critical health education and health behavior measures during these very difficult times. As our nation moves forward in addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a competent certified health education workforce will be as significant and essential as ever before.
The following interview is part of a new series to highlight the amazing work efforts of our credential-holders
NCHEC: What is your current job title and where do you work?
Lauren: I am currently completing a fellowship at the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. My title is Payment & Policy Fellow.
NCHEC: What is the role of a Payment and Policy Fellow with CAPC?
Pre-COVID 19, my day-to-day tasks consisted of assisting in the development of educational presentations, articles and materials. In addition, I led specific projects to expedite the adoption of serious illness strategies and standards among health plans and ACOs. These projects included collaborative efforts and initiatives with other partner organizations, and conducting ongoing interviews and investigations on needs, opportunities, and barriers to advancing payment for and access to palliative care.
NCHEC: How is Palliative Care defined by your organization?
Lauren: Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on the patient’s prognosis. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
NCHEC: How have your responsibilities changed as a result of COVID-19?
Lauren: Due to COVID-19, my priorities have completely shifted. I, along with my supervisor, track the daily policy changes being made by Medicare/Medicaid and state governments that pertain to palliative care teams (e.g., telehealth expansion, licensure portability/flexibility, early prescription refills, etc.). I have also been assisting with more strategy-specific tasks to help promote CAPC’s CAPC Rapid Response Toolkit to health organizations, hospital associations, etc.
NCHEC: Do you think your role as a health education specialist be permanently altered due to this worldwide pandemic?
Lauren: The role of the health education specialist is needed now more than ever. As we continue with social distancing and eventually move towards this “new normal,” it is imperative that the public knows how they should be taking care of their own physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. For those infected with the virus, it is vital that as they recover, we continue to assist in that recovery by providing as much information to community resources and supports as possible. There is still so much unknown about the long-term effects of the virus and what havoc it will continue to have on those in recovery. Health education specialists will also be needed in infection prevention measures and helping to equip the public with the knowledge and skills to stay healthy and safe.