April 19, 2021

Volunteer Spotlight: Ana Sofia Moreno-Mesa, 2020 COVID Hero

Name: Ana Sofia Moreno-Mesa
Where do you call home: Ann Arbor, MI
Occupation: Medical Student, Northwestern University, M4
Volunteer Role: Medical Student

Ana Sofia Moreno-Mesa is one of the many dedicated medical students providing care to CommunityHealth patients. When the pandemic hit last year, she also stepped up to help secure food donations for patients. Read more about her in this special National Volunteer Appreciation Month Spotlight!

In a few sentences, tell us more about yourself and your background!

I was born in Colombia and came to the United States with my family when I was 2 years old. I was raised in Ann Arbor, MI. I attended Smith College, a small women’s college in New England, for undergrad, earning a degree in Chemistry. I spent a gap year with AmeriCorps working at an FQHC in Tucson, AZ, where I focused on social determinants of health screening and research, health equity trainings for employees, and facilitating an internship program for public health undergrads with the University of Arizona. For the last few years I’ve been here in Chicago working on my MD with Northwestern University.

Is there a specific area of healthcare you are interested in or healthcare experiences you are seeking?

My passion lies in working with underserved populations, particularly Spanish-speaking patients. I will be starting my Family Medicine residency at Madigan Army Medical Center, WA, this summer.

Outside of volunteering with CommunityHealth, how do you like to spend your free time?

Reading, crossword puzzles, yoga, going to the gym, window shopping.

What’s your favorite book or movie?

The Intouchables (2011) – great movie about an unexpected friendship and a fantastic soundtrack.

If you could be one animal, what would you be and why?

I would love to be a house cat – I would love to lounge in the sun.

Why and how did you begin volunteering at CommunityHealth?

I was assigned to CommunityHealth through Northwestern’s Education-Centered Medical Home (ECMH) program, a longitudinal clerkship opportunity.

Do you remember your first day? What surprised you?

I was surprised that a place that seemed so small on the outside could have so many twists, turns, and rooms.

What has kept you volunteering all this time?

I love the patients and families I have met through this program; they are incredible people who make coming to CommunityHealth feel like a gift.

What has been your biggest takeaway from your time with CommunityHealth, and how does this impact your other life or career goals?

I have been most deeply impacted by the familial bonds of the patients at CommunityHealth and have learned that a family-based approach is a key to good health. This was a key factor in my decision to specialize in Family Medicine.

How has working with CommunityHealth influenced your perception of healthcare?

CommunityHealth has driven home the power of a medical home; from the moment a patient is checked in, they are cared for through an integrated, team-based approach, which removes a lot of the emotional, financial, and administrative work patients are expected (but often not instructed how) to do. This creates a true environment of healing and thriving for patients, making it easier to combat disparities.

What does being a healthcare professional mean to you?

As a healthcare professional you are one of several health advisors to a patient; they may share things with you that they share with no one else, and they depend on you to demystify their care and advise them in their best interest. It is a position of trust.

What advice would you give to a new volunteer at CommunityHealth?

Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” both of patients and of fellow colleagues at CommunityHealth, even if you think you know the answer; their answers may surprise you.

Thank you, Ana Sofia, for your commitment to CommunityHealth, our patients, and improving healthcare access and equity!