For Kerith Hartmann, work is deeply personal. The commitment and creativity that she brings to her work as a health educator at Central City Concern’s Old Town Clinic stems from a desire to work toward equity and equality for all people, especially those living with chronic health hardships, addiction, and often without a home.
“We really owe it to the population we serve to give them the same opportunities and healthcare like everyone else.”
As a health educator, Kerith regularly screens patients for unhealthy alcohol use with the SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) approach, coordinates a tobacco cessation program, puts on opiate safety classes, makes appropriate referrals, and otherwise works to improve her patients’ health literacy. With each patient she meets, Kerith gently works to find out not only what health changes they want to make, but why they want to change.
“It’s like detective work. But after I find out, that’s when I can completely devote my support to those reasons.”
Sometimes, the health behavior changes that patients work on take hold; other times, they don’t. The vulnerable individuals who access services at Old Town Clinic have often been given up on – by loved ones, by the mainstream healthcare system, by society. But Kerith is determined to do what she can to empower those she works with and instill in them a sense of belief. To her, her patients’ goals aren’t “a matter of can or can’t. It’s a matter of figuring out what’s right and will work for you.”
“I don’t think you can ever give up on somebody. I want to let our patients know that they are incredibly resilient and capable of so much.”
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Kerith's story is part of Central City Concern's week-long series to celebrate National Health Center Week by highlighting just a few of the many extraordinary people who make the work of CCC's health centers possible. The week of August 9 through August 15 is a time to recognize the services and contributions of health centers that provide affordable, high quality, cost effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people throughout the United States.
Learn more about CCC and National Health Center Week by reading a post introducing this series from Leslie Tallyn, CCC's Chief Clinical Operations Officer.