“Our days throughout these last months have been long and trying but the gratification we experience while caring for the ill and supporting patients through these extremely stressful times make it all worth it.” — Vanessa Hashim, PA-C
CARBON HEALTH: Hi Vanessa! The last time we saw each other was back in February when we were filming a video for Carbon Health. It was such a great day and such a wonderful bonding experience. A lot has happened since then! How are you holding up during this crisis?
VANESSA HASHIM: Oh man, that was such a fun, pre-COVID day! COVID-19 has, obviously, come with many challenges and changes for all of us. In spite of the many unknowns, Carbon Health has responded quickly, yet cautiously, to meet the needs of our community. With the company’s support, our teams on the ground have been able to screen thousands of patients right from the beginning. Our days throughout these last months have been long and trying but the gratification we experience while caring for the ill and supporting patients through these extremely stressful times make it all worth it.
CH: What keeps you going on those especially long days at the clinic?
VH: Our patients have been incredibly supportive, offering words of encouragement and appreciation that stick with you. It’s been very heartwarming to see the community work together and show this kind of comradery. Police officers who waited hours to get tested, returned with drinks for the team when they noticed they were dehydrated in their protective gear. Patients have been making masks and face shields at home and bringing it to our teams as gifts. These tough months have brought us together as a stronger team, company, and community.
CH: Do you have any inspiring stories about this experience?
VH: There are inspiring stories I see every day. An encounter that really stuck with me was one I had with an older gentleman who came in to see me for COVID testing. We ran some tests that all came back normal, but halfway through the interaction, I could tell there was something deeper going on. Although I was running behind on my schedule, I could tell this man needed a little bit more of my undivided attention. I had my team inform my other patients that there would be a little wait for an urgent matter. I sat down to talk to the patient and learned he was experiencing incredible fear and loneliness over these last months and had no one to talk to. I was expecting my next appointments to be angry and annoyed because of the long wait, but the patients were so understanding due to my team’s clear communication. I felt my team and the patients worked together to gift me this time to spend on someone who really needed it. He returned two weeks later with chocolate and to let our team know that he was “cured.” His words of gratitude will stick with me for a very long time.
CH: Walk me through a typical day.
VH: I test people for COVID every day at work. I am learning so much each shift. I hear so many stories of suffering, whether it be with health, with financial situations, or with relationships or lack thereof during the quarantine. Sometimes the interactions we have with patients in the clinic are the only in-person interactions they have had for months, so our team aims to make it impactful, not only on a medical level but also on an emotional level. We have been reminded so intensely of the impact emotional and psychological suffering has on the body, and how important it is to deliver care that addresses all of this. I have been watching my colleagues grow in empathy and creativity in order to provide the best care they are capable of during this time and have likewise heard many stories of our patient’s personal growth as well. During difficult times, heroes emerge and find such creative ways to support the community.
CH: How has this crisis changed the way you look at healthcare?
VH: This is the first time in my career I have had to navigate through medicine without the guidance of a body of research to support my decision making. It really brings into light how much medicine is an art. We have all had to tap into our creativity to provide the best care possible for our patients in an environment with incredible restraints and unknowns. It has been an uncomfortable process, but I have also seen a lot of growth.
CH: What else has surprised you during COVID?
VH: My coworkers have absolutely blown me away. We have all become such a well-oiled machine in order to meet the needs of our patients during this time, and in the process have grown so much closer. I feel my team and I can read each other so well. When we see a colleague needs a break, someone steps up to do the work of two, allowing them to remove their mask, take a breather, and grab a sip of water. We have favorite songs to get our mornings going, and happy dances we do when we know we are just moments from sending out our last patient and ripping off our PPE that has been suffocating us for hours. As we work harder, we laugh harder, and we appreciate and uplift one another.
CH: When did you first hear about Carbon Health? What attracted you to the opportunity to work for the company?
VH: I first read about Carbon when I was moving back to California from Virginia. Our clinical teams are small, made up of four people, so it’s important we work well together. I don’t think it’s a coincidence I look at my schedule each day and get excited about who is on my team. Carbon Health has recruited some of the best people, and for that reason, it feels like home when I’m here. Patients comment on it all the time.
CH: What is your favorite part about being a Carbon Health employee?
VH: I love the work-life balance, the staff, the beautiful clinics, and the sleek EMR. A lot of medicine is stuck in the rut of routine. Carbon Health is growing and changing and constantly seeking new ways to better serve the community and create a healthy work environment that allows the staff to do their best work while maintaining great job satisfaction. There are a lot of opportunities to get involved in different facets of the company, such as telemedicine, specialty services, and even some travel opportunities. Working at Carbon Health is comfortable, rewarding, and exciting.