Camillus Health Concern’s Consumer Advisory Board Spotlight

This month, Camillus Health Concern, is highlighting our Consumer Advisory Board (CAB).  The CAB is an important component of the clinic’s operations with the goal of representing all consumers who receive services at Camillus Health Concern.  The members provide meaningful input to the clinic leadership. This input helps in the development of policies and programs that address consumers’ needs.  The ultimate goal being improvement of overall health of consumers.  

Working in the spirit of St. John of God, the CAB members seek to become knowledgeable regarding the services of the clinic in order to advocate and help members of the patient community.  This knowledge is gained in a number of ways, from hosting speaker series in their monthly meetings, or through outreach efforts advocating the clinics services in the community. 

Moreover, in order to ensure the consumer’s voice in all facets of leadership, at least two CAB members hold a seat on our Board of Directors during which a verbal report is given on the most recent CAB meeting including updates on activities and feedback from consumers.

One of such activities is on the calendar for this upcoming May.  Since 2014, Camillus Health Concern and the CAB have partnered to send representatives to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) Conference.  While usually hosted in a U.S. city, the 2021 NHCHC conference will be held virtually this year.  Camillus Health Concern is proud to announce that CAB members, Jose Porras and Jacqueline Quinones will be this year’s attendees. 

To spotlight the amazing work the attendees are doing, we all connected virtually for an interview to learn a bit more about their CAB involvement, conference goal, and future ambitions:                                     

Camillus Health Concern: How long have you both been with the Camillus Health Concern’s Consumer Advisory Board?  

Jose Porras: It’s been a little over two and a half years.  After completing the ISPA [Institute of Success and Personal Achievement] program in September 2018, a friend and long-time member suggested I attend one of the monthly meetings. And when I did, I felt a sense of belonging, so I stayed and worked my way towards more involvement and responsibility.

Jackie Quinones: It was similar with myself.  In 2018, I met Elving [former CAB Chairperson] and he introduced me to the CAB and explained its role with the clinic.  With the CAB, I found a group of people with a great sense of community and a love to serve.  I really love to serve and help too, so I was excited to join.

Pictured above: Jose Porras, CAB Member

Pictured above: Jose Porras, CAB Member

 Camillus Health Concern: It sounds like a wonderful group of people!  What are some of the ways you help the community?

Jose Porras: The CAB coordinates numerous volunteer activities every month – four to be precise. Each is purposed to serve different populations. For example, on the first Wednesday of the month, we have our CAB meeting. On the second Wednesday of the month, we volunteer to pick-up trash around the Camillus House Norwegian Cruise Line Campus – we call it the “Good Neighbors Project”. The third Friday of the month we participate in the “Brownsville Project” whereby we travel to one of Camillus House’s apartments and help clean the apartments of residents who are elderly and or disabled. Then, on the fourth Thursday of the month, we help serve meals during lunch at the Camillus House main campus – we call this volunteer activity “CAB Serves Lunch”. And lastly, throughout the year, we solicit donations for blankets, socks, sleeping bags, etc. and distribute them to the homeless population living on the streets in our community. I feel a sense of altruism and compassion by helping those in great need. By participating in these activities, I feel a sense of purpose.

Jackie Quinones: I think the CAB helps the community by providing a comfortable environment for people to offer their opinion.  For example, the ambassadors help CAB leadership with feedback to give to the Board of Directors or clinic leadership.  One of my primary goals as CAB vice-chair is to make the CAB as open and comfortable as possible for patients to share their feedback.

Camillus Health Concern: Wow, it sounds like you both have such a positive impact!  And what do you hope to gain from attending the NHCHC conference?  What are you most looking forward to?

Jackie Quinones: I’m so excited to attend!  I’ve been taking a look at the workshops and I’m looking forward to learning how to become a mentor or leader in my community.  As I go around Miami every day, I see more people out there experiencing homelessness and get worried because I’m not seeing a lot of change. 

Pictured above: Jackie Quinones, CAB Vice Chairperson

Jose Porras: I think I’m looking forward to all of it.  But I’m especially intrigued by the concepts of Trauma Informed Care and how to start and manage a Consumer Advisory Board.

Camillus Health Concern: Do you see this conference helping to advance the CAB and clinic?

Jose Porras: My hope is to learn and understand many of the complex topics so I can bring back this knowledge and experience to the CAB and clinic.  That way, we can better serve and help the homeless population with their healthcare needs.

Jackie Quinones:  I think it will help when we come back with a whole bunch of ideas!  I’m just hoping that people will be honest and inspired to help Miami and get people out of the street and into healthcare.  My goal is to see Miami without anyone homeless and in affordable homes. 

Camillus Health Concern: Well, what an exciting prospect!  We look forward to hearing about everything you both will learn.  And hopefully, fingers crossed, next year’s conference will be back in-person!

Jose Porras: Yes, hopefully so.  It’s always really exciting meeting people in your community from around the country!

Jackie Quinones:  Agreed!  And thank you to the clinic and leadership for continuing the partnership in attending this conference.  We’re really excited.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council 2021 Conference will take place on May 10th to 14th 2021.  Camillus Health Concern hopes the members will enjoy the conference and looks forward to hearing all that they learn.