Healthcare Shouldn’t Be This Hard: As Cityblock Nurses, We Finally Feel Like We Can Help
Q&A with Janine Horne, MSN-Ed, RN, Manager of Nursing and Community Care at Cityblock in Washington, D.C., and Sherree Bradley, RN, Registered Nurse Care Manager at Cityblock in Charlotte, NC
“Look for the helpers.”
When the headlines in the news, or the experience of our everyday lives feels like too much, we focus on what we can do to make things better. Cityblock care team members, Janine Horne and Sherree Bradley, have spent their careers working in vulnerable communities. In the following Q&A, Janine and Sherree share their experiences of being the helpers people look for and what joining Cityblock has meant to them.
Can you share more about your experience as a nurse prior to joining Cityblock?
Janine: In recent years, being a healthcare professional has been challenging — in many ways, the pandemic has shed a new light on healthcare disparities that have existed for decades, especially for those in our most vulnerable populations. When my work becomes challenging, I always try to focus on what I can do to make a positive impact. It reminds me of the quote, “Look for the helpers.”
Having worked in community health centers and hospitals in DC for many years, I was often the helper people would look for. But I have seen firsthand how overwhelming navigating the healthcare system — finding the helpers — can be for our patients. When someone is in need of care, it can be difficult to identify the right doctors and book appointments, navigate insurance coverage, and understand treatment options. As a nurse, there is no worse feeling than wanting to help in these situations, but not having the time or space to do so. That’s why I joined Cityblock.
Sherree: I completely agree. I spent most of my career as a travel nurse, working in critical and transitional care. I spent time working in many different communities, but so many families had the same struggles in common — trying to arrange care for their loved ones, but having trouble navigating the healthcare system and insurance.
It seemed like they had no one to help them or provide real relief. After I became a supervisor for other nurses and CNA’s, I really felt the pull to return to patient care, which is how I found Cityblock. I wanted to be the person I knew so many patients needed — someone to partner with them to address their healthcare needs. A “helper,” I guess you could say!
What does Cityblock mean to you?
Janine: Many of us at Cityblock are members of the communities we serve, and we can identify with experiencing unmet needs. While I was in nursing school, I was a single mother working full time to provide for my daughter. I couldn’t afford health insurance from my employer and I often struggled to find the care my daughter and I needed at community clinics. Because of my income status, and as a Black woman on my own with a young child, I felt like my mental and physical health concerns were being dismissed and disregarded. I found it painfully ironic that I was a student nurse and was not able to find affordable care.
If Cityblock had been available to me back then, I know it would have changed my life. In my current role as Manager of Nursing and Community Care at Cityblock in Washington, D.C., I make sure my fellow community health nurses have the most current, evidence-based education and training they need to provide exemplary care and make a positive impact in the lives of our patients and their families.
Sherree: Before I found Cityblock, I wasn’t familiar with this type of model for community healthcare. My work in the critical care setting highlighted the cycle of inadequate care that often leads to health emergencies, which in turn places an even heavier burden on healthcare workers. I experienced the same discouragement many of our peers face today watching patients and their families feel defeated by the healthcare system and end up in the emergency room instead of receiving preventative care.
Now, working as a Registered Nurse Care Manager at Cityblock in Charlotte, North Carolina, I realize how important it is to provide comprehensive healthcare support, including 24/7 access to a primary care team, help coordinating doctor’s visits and paperwork, behavioral health consultations, and access to transportation, food, and stable housing. I often meet patients in their homes, at their doctor’s office, or wherever they might need me to address gaps in their current care. With this model, I feel like I am truly making a difference in the lives of my patients and giving them the support they need to live a healthier life all around.
As a team member, what makes Cityblock different?
Janine: Cityblock gives us the time and space to truly partner with our community members, matching our expertise with their healthcare goals to achieve real results. Whether through onboarding, continuing education or staff development, our care teams are given the tools we need to be better healthcare providers, and we are able to demonstrate this with every success story.
Sherree: Cityblock’s culture of supporting its staff has been a breath of fresh air. In order to advocate and care for our patients, we as healthcare professionals also need to care for one another. Cityblock prioritizes the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees in addition to its patients, which helps all of us be better caregivers.
It feels like I’ve found all of the pieces to the puzzle. I can provide comprehensive care to help patients live healthier lives and prevent health emergencies, and I also have support from my fellow team members and Cityblock’s leadership to take care of myself.
What would you say to any fellow nurses and healthcare professionals looking to join Cityblock?
Janine: If you’re feeling burned out or looking for a new challenge, consider Cityblock. Given my background, it has been an honor to be a part of the movement to change the landscape of community health and improve healthcare disparities.
Sherree: What I always say is: “Believe me. You want to work here.” When I speak to friends and former colleagues, I don’t need to do much convincing. They have seen a change in my spirit. It feels so good to know the importance of the work I am doing every single day. Cityblock has given me back my wings.