In October 2021, for the first time, OLE Health named two individuals the employee of the month: the dynamic duo of Family Nurse Practitioner Emily Birnbaum and Medical Assistant Cecilia Becerra. In honoring these two women together, OLE Health also honors the teamwork and collaboration that is crucial to our patient-centered model of care.
The day starts with a huddle where Emily and Cecilia go through all of the patients they have scheduled. They coordinate on the tests they need to order and how to manage the workflow of the day. They see about 20 patients per day, which can be a lot to manage, but Emily stays focused on the individuals that she is here to help.
“Even though the day is often hectic, there is this moment with the patient and everything around you stops. That is where the magic is. When you’re sitting there and being present and being there to help someone. That is the best part of my day.”
Cecilia seems to admire Emily’s approach. She said, “Emily always takes her time listening to patients to provide them with the best care.” She also shares Emily’s vision for improving the health of OLE Health patients.
Cecilia says, “To me patient care is important because it keeps the community healthy. We offer quality healthcare to those who need it and make sure each visit counts.”
Both women derive immense satisfaction from the collaboration and direct patient care they experience in their jobs. Emily and Cecilia collaborate with one another, but they also collaborate with other providers. For Emily, it is all about making connections.
She said, “We serve a lot of really wonderful people, and I really like building relationships with my patients over time. I enjoy helping them and seeing many of them improve. But I also really value my colleagues. I have been blessed to make a lot of friends at OLE, and I feel like I have made friends for life.”
At the end of the day, both women understand how OLE Health, and their work, supports the larger community.
“We are the only clinic providing primary care services to those with Medi-Cal or who are uninsured,” said Emily. “We have a lot of patients who see us and go to the ER; there aren’t other places that take them. They need services like cancer screening and behavioral health, and we have care coordinators who can connect them to those services.”
Some of the struggles Emily and Cecilia hear from their patients are needing to walk two hours to get to the health center or only eating one meal a day. Sadly, they expressed that stories like these are common, because our patients have so many needs. They see that as what makes OLE different and special.
As Emily puts it, “Patients can come to health center, and there is an assortment of things we can do for them all at once.”
For Cecilia, it’s the thing she likes most about working here. “The reason I like working at OLE Health is because we help the community by providing resources and programs that help patients who don’t have proper care access.”
They’re a new team and will admit it isn’t always smooth sailing. But, at the end of the day, both felt that the recognition meant more, because they were recognized together.