Aliya Rogers, RN, BSN, is well versed in Hospice care. As a nurse case manager at Penn Wissahickon Hospice, Rogers manages a census of hospice or pre-hospice patients, including visiting them three times a week in their homes, overseeing their medication, and serving as a liaison between patients and their doctors.
Her mother, Wanda Rogers, RN, a charge nurse on the skilled care unit at Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH), works with patients who no longer require acute hospital care, but still need medical attention before they are sent home.
In April 2012, Wanda shared with her daughter her lifelong dream of contributing to the community through social and health education. The two brainstormed ideas with Darlene Andrews, LPN, and Delores Stanford, RN, BSN, both of Pennsylvania Hospital’s skilled care team with Wanda, along with Bishop G. Cherry of Hew Hope Outreach Center and close friend June Jones, to find a solution.
The group founded Health Education Referral Outreach Project (HERO), an organization dedicated to providing vital health resources for a diverse population in Philadelphia’s Germantown section, and for seniors living near PAH.
“We’re seeing what my mother wanted to do for so long now come to fruition,” said Aliya Rogers. “She and I work on opposite sides of the continuum of care, and this program assists patients on both sides.”
Working with pre-hospice patients who receive treatment for a chronic disease or cancer, but are not acutely sick and cannot stay for a long period of time in a hospital, Aliya knows gaps in modern medicine.
“There are a lot of people who fall between the cracks. There are people who need monitoring, advice, and more, and do not qualify for home care,” said Aliya. “HERO helps bridge that gap.”
HERO hosts weekly clinics at New Hope Outreach Center with nursing assessment, vital sign screenings, and health care referrals as well as community health fairs with screening and education for Germantown residents. The group also plans to expand Wanda’s innovative Falls Prevention program, originally developed for her patients and colleagues at PAH. HERO hopes to begin presenting the program to selected assisted living and skilled nursing facility residents and staff members beginning this autumn.
During the group’s first few months of service, they partnered with New Hope Outreach Center to host a community health fair at Happy Hallow Playground. The fair featured information on community health services, blood pressure screenings, speakers from the local fire department and recreation department, and more.
Some health fair visitors are unable to afford health insurance while others may be able. Whether or not those visitors have health insurance, many do not know the options available to them.
“This program is important to improve health outcomes for a population which often does not have the knowledge base to access affordable healthcare,” said Aliya.
In the clinics, community members are directed to available health resources, including Penn Medicine physician practices and the local Philadelphia Department of Health clinic. Those with known health issues, such as hypertension, are encouraged to come back regularly for vital sign monitoring.
“We have a following of people who come out for the clinics every week,” said Aliya.
Originating in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, where Wanda grew up, the group plans to carry the project to other areas of the City with the HERO camper mobile clinic unit.
Building on those services, HERO recently started a mentoring program, in which a nurse serves as a health mentor to those facing a chronic illness. The mentoring nurse contacts the community member 2 to 3 times per week, instructing in better health maintenance and giving reminders about doctor’s appointments and medication compliance.
Now a Penn Medicine CAREs grant provides crucial support to HERO, covering operating costs of the weekly clinics, and some initial costs of September’s health fair.
“Education and prevention go hand in hand,” said Wanda Rogers. “HERO promotes wellness one community at a time.”
HERO’s next community health fair is scheduled for September 29 at the Happy Hallow Playground in Fairmount Park, 4800 Wayne Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144.
About Penn Medicine CAREs
Continuing its commitment to underserved communities, Penn Medicine established the CAREs Foundation Grant Program in January 2012 to support and recognize faculty, student, and/or staff efforts to improve the health of the community and increase volunteerism in community-based programs. These programs have addressed health disparities, provided care to seniors, administered free medical care to homeless in Philadelphia, helped fund medical care for uninsured and underinsured, and more.
Each quarter, the Foundation awards grants of up to $2000 per project to community and hospital-based programs on behalf of the employee(s) or Perelman School of Medicine student(s) who volunteer their time to support the program. The funding is eligible for expenses related to initiatives in community health improvement services, health professions education, subsidized health services, cash and in-kind contributions, or community building activities.