Using Healthcare to Give Back to Community
By: Travis Hoshauer
In July of 2016, the Berks Community Health Center opened its doors to the community on the second floor of Opportunity House. Lisa Gooch, a Nurse Manager at Berks Community Health Center, oversees the daily operations of the clinic and takes care of patients. Alongside her job at Berks Community Health Center, Gooch also volunteers with a cooking group at Opportunity House.
Gooch cares for clients that are from the shelter as well as the general community. Gooch said, “We are here to make sure access is available to healthcare. We believe that healthcare is something not just for those that have, but for everybody. We are here so everyone has opportunity for healthcare and so that everyone should be guaranteed to get the healthcare that they need.” Berks Community Health Center is an organization which is a separate entity from Opportunity House. One of the values of the clinic is to care for the patients in the community, and some patients which includes clients from the shelter.
Gooch occasionally triages clients in the shelter, and then they may get registered as patients. Gooch noted that most times, the clients in the shelter are not patients at the clinic, but the clinic is willing to see anyone as a patient. All that they need to do to become a patient is to go to the Berks Community Health Center and register. Patients can also receive free medical care without insurance.
Nursing is a profession that Gooch had imagined herself doing from a very young age. Her mother had to work three or four jobs to get by. Gooch said, “I often had to walk to the clinic for healthcare when I was a child. It was sometimes a very scary experience sitting alone at the clinic as a kid.” As Gooch sat in a new clinic for the first time, she sat waiting forever, terrified. After a while, a nurse came over to comfort her. From that moment on, she was inclined to help people, and she knew that through healthcare, she would be able to do so. For Gooch, the main expectation for herself was, “Get out of the ghetto and try to make something of yourself.” Gooch wanted to break the status of living in a low socioeconomic setting, she did not want to be another statistic.
When Gooch turned 18, she took on an internship at Community General Hospital, the same clinic she went to as a child. Gooch interned at the hospital for six months, and fell in love with the job. She was then offered a job in pediatrics, and continued in that field for a few years. She then decided to go back to school to further her education in Nursing. After she received her LPN in nursing, she continued to help out in and outside of the community. She joined a group called “Medical Missions,” and traveled to a camp in New Mexico to help out there. Gooch also traveled to India on a “World Missions” trip. Gooch shared, “To see how it is in other countries, we are so blessed. It is very eye-opening and humbling. Especially in healthcare.” After the trip abroad, she returned to the United States and became a Registered Nurse, then continued ok her bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
Gooch believes that education is one of the best ways to step it up, and become more knowledgeable. She is currently seeking for her master’s degree. Gooch left the interview with some inspiring words that read, “I believe that we are always supposed to give back, we are always supposed to be here for others.”