Emily Zona is passionate about helping people in the community she now calls home. Two years ago, she left Boston to become a Jesuit Volunteer. She was assigned to Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic on Milwaukee’s near south side.
“The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a domestic and international service program,” Emily explained. “The idea is to immerse yourself in the community where you live and work in solidarity with the underserved.”
Jesuit Volunteers have worked at Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic for more than 25 years. Many volunteers, like Emily, plan careers in the medical field. As a clinic assistant, she helped hundreds of uninsured patients apply for and obtain medications.
“Our uninsured patients are primarily Hispanic and Spanish-speaking only.They’re usually taking two or three medications and need help paying for them. The patient assistance program requires a tedious application process with a lot of paperwork and barriers. The applications are an example of just how hard it can be for uninsured patients to receive the resources they need to care for themselves.”
After her year of volunteer service was over, Emily knew she wanted to stay at the clinic.
“There was still so much work to be done, so I applied for a position as a community health worker. I was thrilled when I was hired,” she shared.
In her new role, Emily oversees the clinic’s influenza vaccination campaign.
“We went to places people already go – churches, grocery stores and restaurants – because it’s important to meet people where they are. The campaign was extremely successful, and we vaccinated hundreds of individuals.”
Her work with the flu vaccine eventually laid the groundwork for the clinic’s COVID-19 vaccine outreach campaign.
“We called all 1,800 eligible patients and had conversations with them about the vaccine. We answered their questions, helped them get appointments, addressed barriers and made sure they we able to show up,” said Emily.
The clinic also partners with the Milwaukee Health Department.
“They brought vaccines to the clinic, and our staff assisted with administration. Many of our patients were vaccine hesitant, but they trust us. It makes a huge difference that the vaccine was coming from us.”
At least 65% of the clinic’s patients have been vaccinated against COVID-19. A second round of outreach is planned for those who have not yet received the vaccine.
“We’ll continue to partner with the health department and have conversations with our patients regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The fact that we’ve gotten through to so many of our patients shows the power of having a conversation with a trusted health care provider or staff member from the provider’s office,” Emily shared. “And if our patients are getting vaccinated, they’re likely spreading the word among their families, friends and neighbors too.”
How you can help
Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic is the largest free clinic in Wisconsin and relies on the generosity of donors like you to help people who need it most. Please consider making a gift today. You can also support a program or hospital close to home by clicking here.