Michigan Medicine peer mentoring goes virtual

May 27, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

While there is so much uncertainty right now, one thing remains constant — connecting with others is key to the health and well-being of patients and their loved ones. As Michigan Medicine services ramp up, so too is the work of the Office of Patient Experience volunteer peer mentors.

“Peer mentor support has become even more vital, especially with the inpatient visitation restrictions and social isolation so many people are experiencing,” said Darnysus Jackson, Office of Patient Experience (OPE) program manager. “We are encouraging our mentors to reach out to their mentees remotely. Following an initial phone session, mentors and their mentees can decide if a video chat would be more helpful or if they want to continue with the phone sessions.”

Peer Mentors can:

  • Provide information, guidance and emotional support to patients who have experienced a serious health issue, increasing the ability to self-manage care with reinforced learning of disease management skills.
  • Help patients confront challenging issues and emotions, leading to enhanced self-esteem, self-efficacy and healthy living behaviors.
  • Offer a network of peers to help those experiencing a health issue to not feel alone.
  • Encourage patients to partner in their care by role modeling how to positively adjust to health care challenges, navigate the health system and create beneficial relationships with clinicians and caregivers.

“I try to help others avoid the feelings I experienced, or at least make them feel like they are not alone,” said Sheri Hicks, mentor for the Scleroderma Program.

“Peer mentors serve at dialysis centers to address fears that people have about transplant, such as the surgery, taking new medications, what if the transplant doesn’t work, family/friend support and travel for so many clinic appointments and the fear of the unknown. Our mentors are there to listen and help them better understand the process,” said Stacy Brand, coordinator for the Kidney Peer Mentor Program.

All peer mentors attend an all-day training, sign a Code of Conduct and pass yearly background checks. They have received tip sheets in utilizing Zoom and Blue Jeans Network to connect with patients. Further support is available to them through OPE. There are currently 26 programs at Michigan Medicine.

Michigan Medicine has received national recognition regarding the advancement of peer mentoring in health care systems.

The Michigan Medicine Peer Mentor Toolkit is utilized by hospitals throughout the nation and combines best practices with peer mentor recruitment, training and program launch templates.

“It’s very rewarding to see new programs grow and succeed and to know that the work here at Michigan Medicine is benefiting patients and their families across the country,” said Jackson.

If you have patients who may benefit from peer mentors, reach out to any of the existing programs below to request a mentor, or visit the Office of Patient Experience to learn more.

Bone Marrow Transplant Peer Mentor Program

Kathryn Hudacek, nurse and mentor coordinator

Cardiac Rehab Peer Mentor Program

Kari Meyers, exercise physiologist and mentor coordinator

Community Amputee Network (U-CAN) Peer Visitor Program

Carla Vollmer, limb loss support and mentor coordinator

Cystic Fibrosis Peer Mentor Program 

Katie Hall, mentor coordinator

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Peer Mentor Program

Elizabeth Boggs, social worker and mentor coordinator

Gloria Patterson, social worker and mentor coordinator

Heart Transplant & LVAD Peer Mentor Program

Jessica Singer, social worker and mentor coordinator

Kidney Transplant (Donor and Recipient) Peer Mentor Program 

Stacy Brand, Transplant Center outreach manager and mentor coordinator

Kidney Transplant Pediatric Peer Mentor Program

Matt Butler, social worker and mentor coordinator

Liver Transplant (Donor and Recipient) Mentor Program

Jennifer Smith, mentor coordinator

Liver Transplant Pediatric Peer Mentor Program

Tanya Smith, social worker and mentor coordinator

Lung Transplant Peer Mentor Program 

Amy Van Zee, social worker and mentor coordinator

Neurology/Epilepsy Pediatric Peer Mentor Program

Ashley Barnes, social worker and mentor coordinator

NICU Peer Mentor Program

Daisy Freitas, unit host and mentor coordinator

Pulmonary Hypertension Peer Mentor Program

Leah Brock, social worker and mentor coordinator

Radiation Oncology Peer Mentor Program

Deanna Carr-West, radiation therapist and mentor coordinator

Tayler Lashbrook, radiation therapist and mentor coordinator

Scleroderma Peer Mentor Program

Maya Sabbagh, mentor coordinator

Scoliosis Peer Mentor Program

Marisa Rhodes, manager, pediatric orthopaedics and mentor coordinator

Spinal Cord Injury & PM&R Peer Mentor Program

Patricia Zuba, spinal injury clinical specialist and mentor coordinator

Stroke Peer Mentor Program

Leah Brock, social worker and mentor coordinator

Urology Peer Mentor Program

Lisa Mathias, clinical care and mentor coordinator