Senior Clinician, Behavioral Health, Commonwealth Care Alliance: Age 38
By her own admission, Jennifer Bell was born to be a helper.
“While I picked social work as a career, I think it also picked me,” she said. “Even in my personal life, I always want to help people.”
From her high-school days, visiting her Noni, who was receiving care, Bell found herself also interacting with the other patients in the facility. These days, she leads a team at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) on an innovative approach to provide medical and mental healthcare to people with non-traditional needs.
“Many of our patients haven’t always had the best experience with the health system in the past,” she said. “We’re here to show that we’re different.”
Using a wrap-around model of care, Bell and her team bring together a patient’s primary-care doctor and therapist to prevent any gaps in treatment. The CCA team is also involved in helping with a patient’s housing and food needs, as well as assisting with tasks such as filling out paperwork.
“My role is to help with the behavioral-health piece, breaking down the barriers that might prevent a person from connecting to mental-health and substance-use-disorder programs,” she said, adding that CCA’s professionals often make house calls for patients who can’t get out.
Trust is an essential part of caring for non-traditional patients, she added, and building that trust starts with showing up. “Sometimes, just having someone consistently show up makes a difference. So, I show up.”
Bell is proud that so many people are comfortable saying, “oh, I can call Jenn,” whether it’s on the job or in her voluntary work.
From serving as a mentor in the Sibling Connections program which reunites siblings placed apart in the foster-care system, to volunteering with her dog, Leila, in a program to help children build their reading skills and confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs, Bell finds helping others to be rewarding work, even outside her day job.
“I have an ability to engage people who have a history of not wanting to be engaged. I feel it’s my main strength,” she said. “I bring a level of energy to the work because I enjoy meeting people from all different walks of life who are on many different paths. I let them know that I’m here for them.”
That’s why so many people know they can call Jenn.