Meet the Medical Assistants on the Central Outreach Hep C Cure Squad | Sponsored | Sponsored Content | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Meet the Medical Assistants on the Central Outreach Hep C Cure Squad

Since 2017, Central Outreach Wellness Center has been running a hepatitis C outreach program, focusing on the addiction recovery communities. Testing sites, which use rapid test kits, have been set up at methadone, suboxone, pain management clinics, and homeless shelters across Western Pa. Today, Central Outreach is the leading curing center for hepatitis C in the U.S.

But, this outreach wouldn’t be possible without a team. Today, we’re meeting the Medical Assistants who are part of Central Outreach’s Hep C Cure Squad. Medical Assistants: Emily Nolan, Lexi Fontana, Haley Miller, Jenna Panhorst, Megan Ackerman, and Alex Young, who is also the Director of Marketing.

This article is second in a two-part series on the Central Outreach Wellness Center hepatitis C team.

Emily Nolan, Medical Assistant

I originally started working with Central Outreach Wellness Center while completing an internship in my final semester of college. It was clear within my first week of working how impactful this job is, not only to my life but others as well. Offering competent LGBTQ health care to the community is a truly amazing opportunity, and I was absolutely thrilled when I heard I was hired to be part of this fruitful team.

Every day I wake up, go to work at one of our multitudes of locations, composed of suboxone and methadone clinics, rehab facilities, outpatient facilities, county jails, and house visits. At each facility, my team tests for hepatitis C and is a link for the cure. I really just get to help people take a step in the right direction every day.

We take the pressure off of the patient and alleviate many of the difficulties to actually receive treatment. Our outreach program does not make our patients jump through hoops in order to receive the cure. We do our outreach by coming to the patient at either a facility they are at or by scheduling house visits. My team is there for the patient each step.

Jenna Panhorst, Medical Assistant

A typical, or "normal" day being a part of the Hep C Cure squad is everything but normal. I am very proud of the work that this position has allowed me to do, as it is a great feeling knowing that I am part of a team that can assist with curing patients from Hepatitis C.

We have accomplished many things as a team. We find new clinics each and every day to test at to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C. We have tested more than 8,000 people since 2017 and have cured over 3,000 people.

My long term goal in this company is to expand our services to Ohio, as we have recently got approval for us to start testing and curing in that state. In the last couple months, I have been able to share our team goal with many different doctors and nurses at various clinics, and have also been able to schedule repeat visits. My goal is to find as many clinics/rehab facilities as possible to stop the spread of Hepatitis C.

Megan Ackerman, Medical Assistant

I got involved with this by getting my husband cured by Central Outreach Wellness Center and thoroughly enjoying the services that they offered. Providing compassionate care to a population of humans that are often looked over is really what this is about.

Typically we go to drug and alcohol facilities. About 70% of IV drug users have hepatitis c. We go anywhere from inpatient to outpatient. We participate with other organizations in events where our services are needed.

Many other doctors' offices don’t want to “deal” with HCV or the person that has it. They make it a complicated process and most people end up giving up seeking treatment through those providers and inevitably put others at risk for infection. We provide a service that has saved thousands of lives already and thousands of more to come.

Haley Miller, Medical Assistant

I can confidently say I am improving my skills and knowledge on a daily basis with the opportunity I was given working on the hep c team. I have grown as a person, teammate, and caregiver. I never thought I'd get involved working with infectious diseases; it was never my plan with caregiving due to the high risk level of infection. I can only be blessed to continue to grow with the company to help/cure as many people as possible and to stop the spread of hepatitis c and HIV. My long term goal is to proceed in the field that never stops growing, the medical field, and to always put a smile on my patients face guardless the news they are given.

Lexi Fontana, Medical Assistant

A normal day for me is waking up and heading to a clinic (Methadone, Suboxone, Inpatient, or Outpatient) doing an education and then rapid testing people for Hep C and HIV. Pending results, the patient then works with me until they are completely cured of hepatitis C.

As a team we change lives every day by educating, testing, and curing. That is one of my biggest accomplishments and I’d love to continue helping people.

Alex Young, Medical Assistant/Director of Marketing

My position at Central Outreach was offered to me post graduation and it has been the start to my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others in the way that we do — improving their quality of life with access to great health care.

We rely on community organizations to host us at their facilities so we can then test and find people with hepatitis C. This service is convenient for patients because we meet them where they are, even if that is their own home, and send medication to their doorstep if they need it. Easy access to the hep C cure is important because hepatitis C is one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world according to the CDC, and many people don’t know they have it. Get tested today. Walk-ins welcome. No insurance? No problem.

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