Providing Support to New Mainers

woman speaking to another woman by using an iPad

Leslie Gould meeting with a “new Mainer”

Leslie Gould isn’t a clinical practitioner, but the role she plays in the continuum of care for the region’s growing asylum seeker population is as critical as any doctor or nurse.

Rounding temporary housing facilities with an iPad®, Gould helps “new Mainers” navigate the various support resources in Portland and surrounding communities.

“I was hired for the specific purpose of helping this population,” says Gould, who is a master’s level social worker. “This is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done.”

Gould is a member of the MaineHealth Access to Care team, which helps patients navigate the health system’s network of providers, financial support programs and other public assistance. In recent years, this work has evolved to include resource coordination with ethnic-based community organizations and government-managed efforts like the City of Portland Resettlement Program. In short time, Access to Care has become a de-facto service hub for new Mainers.

A Clear Commitment to Community Outreach

“Thank goodness that MaineHealth had the foresight to develop care coordination infrastructure like this over the last 20 years,” said Carol Zechman, senior director of Access to Care. “It put us in a position to respond to the unique needs of this population within our community.”

The work is extending well beyond Portland. Access to Care is supporting similar community-based collaborations for new Mainers in Saco, Sanford, Brunswick and other places.

Gould says the work emphasizes collaboration and even creativity – like when she and others developed the community health passport, a kind of portable medical record for new Mainers to use.

There is something else the work emphasizes: compassion.

“They want to be a part of the community. They just want to belong here and make a contribution and if there is a small way I can help them do that, it is really meaningful.”

Access to Care

Access to health care is the cornerstone of good health. But, access can be a challenge for people who are uninsured. Learn more about Access to Care at MaineHealth