A blog featuring Lisa Johnson-Brown, a DIS with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Lisa was one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2020.
I was so impressed with how this virtual format felt so intimate and engaging. I have to admit I was a bit concerned about keeping focus and my ability to stay on track with the virtual sessions. However, this conference definitely delivered by providing relevant and important topics for the work that I do each day. The topics were both exciting and thought-provoking, and extremely applicable to my role as a Disease Intervention Specialist. I appreciated the cohesiveness of the sessions, and the fact that each speaker was knowledgeable and respectful to the other presenters. It was also nice to witness the presenters being genuinely excited about what other speakers had to offer to the attendants. It was evident that the STD Engage Team provided a well-planned conference even in this new virtual format and successfully engaged and educated all who attended.
The information that I learned from the session on Social Determinants of Health had a huge impact on my thinking going forward. I had never considered social determinants of health in any organized way with my patients. However, this session caused me to truly evaluate the importance of where my patients live, where they work, if they experience food insecurity, their education levels, and how these things affect health outcomes. Now I make sure I engage my patients in conversations about social ills they may be experiencing, which present barriers to optimal health services. I am surprised to find that these conversations have not only improved relationships with my hard to interview patients, but also provides insight into their most immediate concerns.
COVID-19 has definitely created some issues with face-to-face interventions, which in my opinion is the best way to assist our patients. DIS have been able to conduct interviews and support our clinics and providers as best we can. The connections we make during our in-person interviews cannot be fully duplicated by phone. I am proud of how we are able to maintain our professional relationships with all of our medical partners and providers, but I know we all look forward to the day when we will be able to interact face to face and provide that intimate and personal care that is so important when dealing with such delicate and private issues.
Lisa Johnson-Brown is a disease intervention specialist for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She has held this position since March 2010. She considers it an honor to service her patients and work alongside some of the most gifted and knowledgeable professionals in the field of HIV/STD. Prior to this position, she was a Family Independence Specialist for the State of Michigan, providing low-income families with Cash, Medicaid, and Food Assistance benefits. She was eventually promoted to Work First Coordinator, with the task of assisting Family Independence Specialists with facilitating long-term employment for their clients. Lisa recently completed the Masters of Health Administration Program at Central Michigan University and plans to continue her work in the field of infectious diseases.