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Highlights in patient navigation: Akshilkumar Patel and Catherine Seeger at Beacon Clinic

Beacon Clinic for Health and Hope began its partnership with Penn State College of Medicine’s patient navigation program in fall 2017.

Beacon Clinic is a free primary health care clinic serving the uninsured and underserved in the greater Harrisburg community. This year, first-year medical students Akshilkumar Patel and Catherine Seeger joined Beacon Clinic as patient navigators to identify barriers and to improve access to health care.

Drs. Leesha Helm, Michael Partin and Erin Cathcart, residents at Penn State Health, connected with Beacon Clinic and the student navigators to implement a healthy food initiative for 35 diabetic patients at the clinic, with funds awarded from a Penn State Health community health project start-up grant. The goal of the project is to educate Beacon patients on how healthy food choices can affect their overall diabetic health and wellness.

In March, Penn State Health and the Beacon Clinic kicked off the initiative by hosting a “mock grocery store” at the clinic, where they provided fresh produce and educated patients on the importance of a healthy diet. The patients in the program received free food vouchers to a local grocery store. The student patient navigators plan to assist patients in the education and selection of these healthy foods at their local grocery stores.

Student patient navigator Akshilkumar Patel commented on this opportunity, “the mock grocery store initiative at Beacon Clinic has not only directly benefitted the diabetes patients, but it has also helped reinforce concepts we have learned in class as medical students. By providing patients with diet counseling and providing examples of foods they should eat, the patients were better able to appreciate the importance of a healthy diet in managing their diabetes. Additionally, by partnering family medicine residents with Beacon Clinic, Penn State Health once again has demonstrated the value it sees in giving back to its community and shows how successful a health system can become by investing in its community.”

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