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Lets make a Health Connection Podcast 6 Front Line Workers to the Front of the Line

LHC - Hello and welcome to a very special edition of, “Let's Make a Health Connection.” I'm James from Local Health Connect, and we're talking to Jennifer Barber about a very special promotion called “Front-Line to the Front of the Line.” Hi Jennifer.

JB - Hi James! How are you today?

LHC - I'm doing great, how about you?

JB - Really good and I just want to thank you so much for putting this together and allowing us time to talk about not only Local Health Connect but most importantly a new program called "Front-Line to the Front of the Line" or FL2FL. Would you like me to just jump right in here?

LHC - Yeah, go ahead and get started. I've got a list of questions, of course, but you know, we'll just kind of feed off each other and see what happens.

JB - Perfect, so this is something I'm really passionate about right now, and I'll tell you why I have so much passion. For 16 years I worked in a very busy emergency department here in Vancouver Washington. Because I have so many years experience working with Front-Line medical professionals, my heart is breaking right now for them. And what they're experiencing is they're caring day in and day out for people who are sick with covid and other things in these busy emergency departments. And also medical units and as well as urgent care clinics.

LHC - Okay so how does it work? What does this do? Why is it called “Front-Line to the Front of the Line?”.

JB - So we created “Front-Line to the front of the line” with the idea that current providers in our community, providers of mind body and spirit, so health professionals, clinicians in other fields not just mental health. We're talking acupuncture, chiropractic and energy workers. Right now, all of us have very busy schedules. We have wait lists anywhere from one to three months. So you can imagine if a Front-Line medical worker called one of us and said, “Hey I need some help and I need to get in right away,” they might hear from us,” I can put you on my wait list, or I can get you in one to three months.” This is why we created, “Front-Line to the front of the line.” The idea is that current clinicians have conversations with their very current clients and patients about potentially volunteering their space this week to allow a Front-Line medical worker to come in and be seen immediately. And James, I have to tell you, the response is overwhelming. I just started doing this in my own practice. I'm a mental health clinician here in Vancouver. Last week I had a Front-Line medical worker who called for help and I have a very full schedule. I didn't have space on my schedule for this person, and so I thought, might I have one or two clients that I'm going to see this week who want to volunteer their space for a Front-Line medical worker to be seen? And the response was, “Absolutely, thank you so much for asking me. I would be honored to help. It's the least I can do.” And I was able to move that worker into my schedule to be seen immediately, and that person was also overwhelmed with the kindness from people who would leave their space or delay their space, so this person could be seen. So it works and this is the community taking care of each other and that's awesome.

LHC - So let's say I have a practice. I'm part of a clinic, or I work by myself somewhere, and I want to participate. How would I get involved?

JB - First off, you should go to localhealthconnect.com. That is the platform we created two years ago, and that's the platform we're using right now to get FL2FL out there. So you would go to localhealthconnect.com, and you would click on a mask. There's a blue mask with a red plus sign, and it says FL2FL. You would click there, and you would read about what Front-Line to Front-Line is, and then you can click the button that says “join us”. Excellent, it's very easy.


LHC - Cool. So uh, let's say I work in a hospital and I want to be seen. How do I go about doing that?

JB - If you are a Front-Line medical worker, and you are at your very end, and you think, “I need to get in because my back is killing me. I need to see a massage therapist.” or “Because of this Pandemic, what I'm seeing at work is changing me as a person and I need to get in to see a mental health therapist immediately.” You can look on Local Health Connect and if you see the FL2FL badge next to the provider, you know, “I can call this provider. They have participated in FL2FL and I will be able to be seen by this provider as soon as possible. I'm not going to be placed on a waitlist.” You would call them. You would tell them that you are a Front-Line Medical Worker. You would go through what everybody else goes through. You would tell them, you know, this is my insurance. This is my availability and the clinician would do the rest. They would work with their current clients to see if anybody would volunteer to open up a space for you to be seen.

LHC - That's awesome. So I'm going to try to devil's advocate here a little. Let's say I'm a mental or physical health provider in the community, and you know I'm full. I can't see anybody. I want to help, but I mean I'm full until after the first of the year. How does that work? How do I get involved? You know I can't see any more people, so I mean this is a common question that probably a lot of people are going to ask, so what would you say to that?

JB - Absolutely and they are asking this, but then I explained to them this is a unique situation. We have Front-Line medical workers who have been working in a traumatic environment for 18 months. Now we are just now beginning to see these Front-Line medical workers at their end of their breaking point, and they are just now beginning to reach out. Yes, as a clinician myself I have a very busy schedule but because of this unique situation, we are coming together as a community to use Front-Line to the Front-Line to get people in immediately. And yes this is only going to work if you have a conversation with your current clients and patients about what the program is and ask them to volunteer and right now they are absolutely wholeheartedly volunteering to give up their space.

LHC - And see that's what's so cool about this is. because that's really the rock stars of this movement.

JB - Yes.

LHC - It's not the providers because, yes, they're, you know, they're not doing more work, but it's the patients that are offering up the kindness and compassion to realize, “Hey. These people might need help sooner and faster than I do. I'm going to get myself taken care of, but you know what? It's important to me.”

JB - So another point that I want to make and thank you for saying that. Another point I want to make is sometimes as I'm talking to providers in the community, they'll say, “Well what about my client?” “What about my current client? Do I just let them go? Do I terminate?” And the answer is no. We do not let that current client go. We just, they would just, volunteer to delay their sessions or their appointments for a week or two weeks. That's fine because maybe if they delay for two weeks. You might be able to get this Front-Line medical worker in for two weeks, and then the two weeks after that maybe somebody else would volunteer their time. So you're continuing to see your regular patients. There's just a little of a delay and obviously, like our Front-Line medical workers, they have to triage all the time. As clinicians outside the hospital system, outside the urgent care system, we also would triage in this situation. Is there somebody we've had on our patient list for a very long time that might be getting to a point where they only need to be seen once a month. This might be a perfect time to transition them to once a month, or to at least have a conversation about this program.

LHC - And how are you participating as a Front-Line to Front-Line member? So I mean I'm gonna ask another question, I'm trying to think of what providers would be asking, but how do we police this or how do I know somebody's not trying to take advantage or somebody's like, saying “Well I'm a Front-Line worker, but you know I really work at Mcdonald's or whatever.” Not using that to disparage McDonald's, but what I'm trying to say is how do we identify who these people are?

JB - We can do that as a provider. Every medical worker that I have ever met, they have a badge that says that they work at that hospital or that urgent care clinic. So my recommendation as a provider providing care to these Front-Line medical workers when they call to schedule an appointment, is to say, “Can you please bring your badge with you when you come or send me a copy of your badge?”

LHC - Perfect, that's what the providers need to know. So you know we're not dealing with just Front-Line medical workers and healthcare providers in the community, what are some ways that other people in the community can help if they're interested?

JB - Oh, that's a perfect question and I have an excellent example to share with you. I have a friend slash colleague in our area who is a yoga therapist, and she heard of the program, Front-Line to the Front-Line, and she doesn't really have a wait-list or a schedule that's bursting at the seams, so she wouldn't really use or participate in FL2FL in the classical way that we designed it for, but she wanted to give back, and she wanted to open up a yoga class specifically for Front-Line medical professionals and the people who love them. So she's created a midweek class, and she is marketing to Front-Line medical professionals, saying come on virtually. Let's meet. Let's share space. This is a common community of like-minded folks who are dealing with the same thing. They know what each other is going through, and she is holding space for them and her name is Heather Jolma-Fray. She's from The Breathing Room.

LHC - That is so awesome and as this catches on you're going to get so many things and you know we're using Local Health Connect as a platform to promote this. But you know, there are providers, and we want them to use our platform, but we want them to really serve this community and serve this group and if you're not comfortable even being part of Local Health Connect, please start your own.

JB - Please do this, yeah. Please do that. The thing about utilizing this platform is this. Hopefully it’s where people are going to come to find you. So because of that, we want to make it absolutely streamlined. Absolutely as easy as possible for providers to sign up and create their profile. We are waiving the first year's fee, $150 dollars, we're waiving that, so you can just come on with promotion code FL2FL and we'll know to waive the first year fee, and we'll verify you, and we'll get you ready to get your provider profile up on the site, so these Front-Line medical workers and frankly anybody else in the community can find you.

LHC - That's awesome and that leads into my next question. This is really, really gonna take off. And what are your plans to expand this into other areas and what are your plans to promote it? To get the word out?

JB - So we've had Local Health Connect up and running for the last two years in Vancouver Washington right here in our town. We started Front-Line to the Front-Line just a couple of weeks ago and in that time we have opened up our Portland market. And within the next month, two months we're going to go down the i-5 corridor into Salem and Eugene. And hopefully we'll begin to see providers in those areas also signing up and participating in Front-Line to the Front-Line because as you know we've got large hospital systems all up and down the i5 corridor.

LHC - And this is really based on the interest of the other markets. If somebody from Seattle says, “Hey, we want to do this.” Well guess what? There's going to be a Local Health Connect Seattle. I mean that's the plan and the Front-Line to the Front-Line is really banding the community together to help a group that is overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid and underappreciated and it's so important that we get to this group. So absolutely, was there anything else that you wanted to add to this?

JB - Iwould just say if you are a provider out there, and you provide care for mind, body and or spirit, please, please, please consider logging on to localhealthconnect.com, create your profile or at least say, join us so that we can get you verified and have you at a place where you can create your profile. Participate with FL2FL so that our Front-Line medical workers can find you ASAP and get in when they need, when they need your help.

LHC - So one of the things that just crossed my mind and this is something right before I let you go is I know that there are some movers and shakers in the community out there, and they're going to want to offer their help. Such as a hospital or a clinic, a very large clinic, and they want to participate too. How can they join?

JB - Well I would say at this point if you're thinking of joining or if you want to have more information you can certainly email me at jennifer@localhealthconnect.com and let's start a dialogue.

LHC - Awesome. So what other marketing is happening? I know there's a lot of things going on, some of what you want to kind of keep under wraps but… You know where people are looking for us is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

JB - Right. We are doing big pushes on social media right now Facebook and Instagram. We have sent out some emails to let local providers know that this is what we're doing, and they can pop on for one year free as long as they're participating in FL2FL. And a little birdie told me that we may have an article coming out in our local newspaper within the next two to three weeks.

LHC - That's so awesome, yeah. So what a great program, very, very happy with the response so far. Everybody's thumbs up. The reality is this thing is going to grow, it's going to spiral, you're going to see large groups of people involved, and we really want to focus on helping this community, the Front-Line medical workers who are way well stretched.

JB - Yeah, they really are and, like I said, our hearts break for them, and you know we want to have a community of professionals that are ready when we see large numbers of medical professionals reaching out for help. This even includes substance abuse professionals. We need to have you come and create a profile on Local Health Connect, and we need to have you provide participation in FL2FL because you're going to be needed as well.

LHC - Absolutely well. Thank you Jennifer. I really, really appreciate you coming in and talking to us today and again this is James, and we're doing a very special edition today of “Let's make a Health Connection.”

JB - Thank you so much James and everybody out there. Thank you for listening.

By Jennifer Barber, LICSW 9-12-2021