Connecting pyschiatric patients with therapists and easing the transition to outpatient care
When Hannah Rosenblatt first started working in a mostly Hispanic community in Boston, she thought her fluent Spanish and her liberal arts education would be enough to navigate the AmeriCorps program.
But as time went on, she realized that if she really wanted to tackle the root causes of poverty, illness, and homelessness of her clients, she needed to learn more. So she applied to University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and its Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP).
“I heard from so many people that SSA was known not just for its rigorous training, but for training leaders, which was very attractive to me.”
Hannah, who grew up in Hamden, CT, earned her undergraduate degree at Connecticut College, majoring in Spanish. During her senior year, she worked on a pediatric psychiatric unit at Bellevue Hospital, where she “fell in love” with the job. Her responsibilities included meeting with parents and giving them the tools to advocate for their children. She also facilitated therapy groups for trauma-exposed patients.
“We would address issues like depression and PTSD, but in a very approachable, kid-friendly way. We spent a lot of time differentiating between thoughts, feelings, and behavior,” she explained.
After arriving at SSA, her first-year field placement at PCC Community Wellness Center on the city’s West Side only reinforced her career path. Once again, she found herself on the front lines of social work, often called upon for crisis intervention – for example, when a young woman became distraught over the news of an unplanned pregnancy.
“There were times when we feared for a patient’s safety – and that’s when your training really kicks in. It’s never fun to hospitalize someone involuntarily, but you wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t.”
In 2015, Hannah added to her “real-world” experience by participating in an innovative national program opportunity made available by SSA and GPHAP: Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative. Student Hotspotting is a program where interdisciplinary teams of students work with patients with multiple complex health conditions who are high-utilizers of care. The program is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Primary Care Progress, and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. A multi-disciplinary team of advisors from UChicago, including faculty and staff from GPHAP, supported the team. GPHAP is supporting a team of students in this second year of UChicago participation.
Hannah was one of two GPHAP students on the 2015 team – one of 30 nation-wide – which also included students from UChicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine as well as pharmacy and nursing students from other schools. As a team, they worked together to better understand root causes of their patients’ health care issues including the social determinants of health and to help these patients in ways that would help reduce the burden of illness.
“We learned that you can really have an effect on a patient when you get to know about more than their medical diagnosis, but their personal story…when you can take the time to ask the questions that doctors often don’t have the time to ask.”
Hannah was awarded a GPHAP Erikson Fellowship during the summer between her first and second year at SSA. Erikson Fellowships are 10-week full time paid positions supported by GPHAP endowments. Hannah’s Erikson Fellowship was at Access Community Health Network in Chicago.
Her training and her Fellowship lead to her first post-graduation job as the behavioral health care coordinator at Access Community Health Network, where her responsibilities include connecting psychiatric patients with therapists and easing the transition from inpatient to outpatient care.
At Access, her supervisor is SSA alum Suzanne Snyder, AM ’87 with whom she is quick to bond over shared school experiences.
“SSA and my participation in GPHAP just made me more curious and aware about everything – especially the health disparities of our city and country,” she said. “It made me want to dedicate myself for the causes I really believe in.”