Our Passion, Your Health

Our Passion | Your Health features stories on the latest happenings at Penn State Health St. Joseph. Check out our blogs, recipes, patient stories, program highlights, and new services that represent our passion...your health.

Community Health Workers Complete Training for Potential Careers in Medicine

There was nothing but smiles as15 students recently graduated as new Community Health Workers during a ceremony at the Langan Allied Health Academy at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus in Reading.

The graduating class was the 10th cohort to complete the 100-hour training program, a collaborative of Penn State Health St. Joseph, the East Central Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Literary Council of Reading-Berks and other local partners.

While in training, students study a variety of topics, including chronic diseases, behavioral health, tobacco cessation, healthcare access and reimbursement, first aid, and basic medical terminology. While some of the work occurs in the classroom, much of it is conducted in the field, as students are encouraged to be out in the community, learning about local resources, making contacts, and exploring what opportunities may be available to them.

Although the program is not set up as training for any particular position, completing it can help lead to a job, explained Laura M. Welliver, a Penn State Health St. Joseph Grants and Special Projects Officer who directs the Community Health Workers program. “It isn’t offered as a job training per se, but those who complete the program report that it really helps them with career change or advancement,” Welliver said. Ahely Espinosa Ramos of Reading said she hopes that graduating from the program will help her to find a job in which she can assist young mothers who are alone, a situation that she had experienced.

”I was that person who needed help and didn’t know anyone,” she said. “I’d love to be able to help someone else who is in that same situation.”

Sherian L. Henry of Spring Township has a background in teaching, but wanted to complete the Community Health Worker training in order to be a more effective helper in her community. “I really wanted to find a way to use my skills in the community,” Henry said. “Completing the program really opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there.”

A Community Health Worker is defined by AHEC as a “trusted member of the community with a gift for helping people prevent or manage disease or other physical or mental health issues.”

Penn State Health St. Joseph hired Community Health Workers to assist with its Diabetes, Prenatal, Family Practice and Breast Cancer programs, explains Welliver. Graduates of the program also have been hired by agencies such as Berks Counseling Center and Centro Hispano. “It works well to have Community Health Workers in settings that require a lot of patient follow up or intensive case management,” Welliver said.

Since Penn State Health St. Joseph began the trainings nearly four years ago, more than 120 students have graduated. The group that graduated in December was one of the largest cohorts in the program’s history.

“It’s so exciting to see how this program has grown and the students have blossomed,” Welliver said. “There is a dramatic need for Community Health Workers in our community, and every one of these graduates can make a difference.”

Henry O. Mateo Mendoza, the only male to complete the training with this cohort, also is a student at Reading Area Community College and works a full-time job. While finding time for the training program was difficult, he said that having earned the designation of Community Health Worker is rewarding.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life, and if I can help someone with the skills that I’ve acquired, then that’s what I want to do,” said Mendoza, of Reading.

The Community Health Worker training program is offered at least twice a year, and there is no charge to participate. Anyone who would like more information can visit https://www.thefutureofhealthcare.org/community-health-worker-training/ or contact Laura Welliver at 610-378-2474
or lwelliver@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

Urgent Health Care Centers Cut Down on Wait Times and Save Healthcare Dollars.

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re still not feeling better. You’ve rested all weekend, thinking whatever is making you sick would pass, but now you feel worse than ever. Your doctor’s office isn’t open on weekends, and you’re supposed to be in a meeting at work tomorrow morning at 9. What to do? Head to one of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Urgent Care Centers, where you’ll see a healthcare provider who can advise you on your condition and help you make a plan for recovery.

Healthcare providers at Urgent Care Centers can treat fractures, cuts, burns and other injuries, as well as conditions such as an allergic reaction, flu, mild to moderate asthma attack, eye irritation, or nausea. Each location has X-ray and lab services so patients can be diagnosed and treated during their visit.

“We provide access for patients with acute but not life threatening illnesses or injuries 364 days of the year,” said Debbie Wingenroth, Director of Ambulatory Sites for Penn State Health St. Joseph.

With locations in Strausstown, Maidencreek Township and Muhlenburg Township, St Joseph’s Urgent Care Centers are accessible to patients throughout Berks County.

Patients do not need to schedule appointments at Penn State Health St. Joseph Urgent Care Centers, and all the facilities are open until 9 p.m. to accommodate people who work during the day. You can learn more about our Urgent Care Centers, including exact location, hours and when urgent care is appropriate at https://www.thefutureofhealthcare.org/urgent-care/ Don’t forget there are three convenient Penn State Health St. Joseph Urgent Care facilities in Berks County to provide you healthcare quickly. We can treat fractures, cuts, burns, and other injuries, as well as conditions such as an allergic reaction, flu, mild to moderate asthma attack, eye irritation, or nausea. Each location has X-ray and lab services so patients can be diagnosed and treated during their visit. #UrgentCare #WhyWait #PSHSJ

New Locations Provide More Options, Convenience for Patients

Penn State Health St. Joseph significantly expanded its reach in Berks County with the opening of the Spring Ridge Health Corridor in December 2016, and a satellite location for physicians and outpatient services in Robesonia in May 2017.

According to Mary Hahn, vice president of ambulatory services and business development, the locations offer patients a range of needed services in easily accessible locations.

The Spring Ridge Health Corridor, located at 2607 Keiser Blvd. in Spring Township, offers primary care services, mammography, physical therapy, ultrasound, wound care, X-ray, and laboratory services.

Located in one of St. Joseph’s fastest-growing physician practice locations, the Spring Ridge facility is close to other specialty providers, making it easier for patients and doctors to interact.

The Robesonia facility, located at 410 E. Penn Ave. across from Conrad Weiser High School, houses a three physician family medical practice.

Physicians Meredith Gable, Robert Mandel and Roland Newman were friends and colleagues prior to becoming partners in St. Joseph’s new medical practice.

“I came to Dr. Newman and Meredith and asked what they thought about us coming together as a group,” said Dr. Mandel. “It seemed like the timing was good, and we all thought we’d be good partners.”

The partnership has taken off, with their practice in Western Berks expanding. In addition to primary care, the facility offers EKG, X-ray, lab services, and physical therapy.
“We work in a family-oriented and collaborative atmosphere,” said Dr. Gable. “We do everything from newborn to palliative and hospice care.”

The Western Berks location gives residents convenient access to services, close to home, according to Hahn.

“As a high quality, low-cost healthcare provider, we look forward to better serving the health and wellness needs of the communities in Western Berks,” she said.

Penn State Health St. Joseph is in constant growth mode. They have expanded locations to include Spring Ridge and Robesonia to provide more services throughout Berks County. At Spring Ridge, patients have access to primary care services, mammography, physical therapy, ultrasound, wound care, X-ray, and laboratory services. Robesonia combined practices to offer primary care, EKG, X-ray, and lab services. #PSHSJ #ConvenientMedicalServices