CARBON HEALTH: What led you to a career as a medical assistant?
Didi Ham: Prior to healthcare, I bounced around because I have a lot of interests — retail, bookkeeping for restaurants and nightclubs, programming, event planning, to just name a few. I was watching daytime TV and a commercial for Heald College came on. I enrolled on a whim in the medical assisting program and I ended up really liking medicine. I enjoy the intellectual challenge and low maintenance workwear of scrubs and sneakers. People are gross and complicated, it keeps things interesting!
CH: COVID-19 has been a stressful time for healthcare workers. What have you found gratifying about your job during this pandemic?
DH: I like helping others. A big part of testing is alleviating anxiety. We have a pretty great marketing department that puts together easy-to-digest information about coping strategies for patients during the pandemic so I reinforce that information. It’s very gratifying to see the patient go from tense and fearful to relaxed and informed.
CH: Are you currently testing patients for COVID? What have you learned from the experience?
DH: I swab patients in the clinic and have finally gotten the knack of being gentle but thorough enough to get a good sample. I’ve been working with our virtual clinicians regularly. For many people, this is their very first experience with telehealth so it’s interesting and challenging to help people utilize this technology for the first time.
CH: What makes Carbon Health different from other healthcare providers?
DH: Carbon Health is doing interesting work on the frontend in direct patient care and on the backend through their app. I like being on the cutting edge of healthcare and I’m proud of my (albeit small) contributions to the advancement of modern medicine. The best thing about working for a startup is that it’s flexible and there’s an openness to new ideas. This is the Bay Area and out-of-the-box thinking has a proven track record of success.
CH: How has this crisis changed the way you look at healthcare?
DH: Our current system does not work and people are dying. The US has vast resources that are being utilized poorly with excessive waste. With the supply shortages we’ve faced, I’ve become a lot more aware of the supplies we use and how to get the best use out of them.
CH: What has surprised you about people/coworkers in a positive way during COVID?
DH: We’re supporting each other so we don’t go crazy. We share memes, have a book club (props to Claudia Martin for moderating), bring snacks, and listen to goofy pop music.
CH: What do you think the future of healthcare will be once this has passed?
DH: Telehealth services can be expanded greatly. There are a lot of appointments patients can have with their clinicians that don’t require an in-person visit. Now that more people have used video conferencing software, talking to their clinicians on video doesn’t seem so weird.
CH: How do you like to unwind when you’re not on the frontlines fighting COVID-19?
DH: I like being outside and active because it keeps me feeling fresh and focused. I recently got into using a Bullet Journal. It’s amazing how much more together I am when I write everything down in one notebook rather than across six different apps on my phone. It’s funny how no matter how far we progress technologically, sometimes the best solutions are the lowest-tech.