A key part of the longitudinal Health Systems Science curriculum at Penn State College of Medicine is the patient experience program. Students will begin learning about health care delivery in their first year of study by serving as guides, helping patients navigate through the sometimes-complicated process of getting the care they need.
Through the patient experience and the other health systems courses, students will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to function effectively amid the complexities of an evolving health system.
This page lists resources for navigating patients, both to help them in the patient experience as well as resources students might provide to patients they are assisting.
Students are evaluated both mid-year and at the end of the patient experience program. To see a sample of the evaluation form, email Tanya Shaw at email@example.com.
In addition to the resources on this page, a full manual is available for patient navigators.
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Resources Patient Navigators Can Provide Patients
When assessing resources, it is important for patient navigators to understand that resources change all the time. A resource that was available two months ago may no longer be available today. The resources listed on this page are updated as frequently as possible, but navigators should verify before providing any resource and assess resources themselves.
Understand the Community and the Issues
- Review local data (poverty levels, mortality rates, etc.)
- Talk to site mentors and medical team
- Discuss resources with social workers, health educators, etc.
- Contact people involved in the community
Be aware of local organizations
- Food banks
- Free clinics
- Community centers
- Local support groups
Search online and examine printed materials (merchandisers, newspapers, flyers, etc.) for upcoming events.
Develop a Resource Directory
- Look for resources at the local, state and national level
- Keep a resource book and share it with peers
- Help to expand resources at the clinical site
- PA211: PA211.org is a guide for finding support groups, primary care physicians, food pantries, homeless shelters, etc.
- AARP: This organization provides services to older Americans, including prescription assistance for those 55 and older.
- Aging and Disability Resource Center: This organization provides assistance with obtaining resources related to aging and disabilities. Call 800-753-8827 for the helpline.
- American Red Cross: This organization provides support after disasters.
- APPRISE: APPRISE is a free, public program of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging that provides free health insurance counseling for patients with Medicare insurance to help them compare options. APPRISE counselors can help patients understand their Medicare benefits, their eligibility and enrollment, the Medicare appeals process, long-term care policies, etc.
- Aunt Bertha: Search by ZIP code for free and low-cost resources like medical care, food, job training and more.
- Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania: The mission of the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania is to foster a community of education, advocacy, supports and research to maximize the quality of life for those with brain injuries and their families.
- Case management at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: Call 717-531-6955 for information on this program, which assists with case management and social work needs.
- Center for Independent Living of Central PA: This program provides services to people living with disabilities.
- Central Pennsylvania Food Bank: Provides information on soup kitchens, food banks, etc., based on ZIP code.
- Central Pennsylvania Literacy Council: Call 717-763-7522 for information on literacy services in various central Pennsylvania counties, including Lancaster, Reading, Perry and York.
- Child abuse and neglect registry: Instructions on Childline reporting of child abuse by 24-hour phone line and online reporting.
- Child welfare: A list of PA child welfare services for providers.
- CHIP Children’s Health Insurance: Call 800-543-8101.
- Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation: Provides resources and education for spinal cord injury and paralysis patients.
- COMPASS – Medicaid: Applying Medical Assistance and other benefits through the Department of Human Services.
- County Assistance Office contacts: Search by location to obtain assistance with Medical Assistance and other county benefits.
- County Health Rankings and Roadmap: Website that compares counties based on health statistics.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (U.S.): Provides resources for those who have served in the military and their families.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (Pennsylvania): Specific resources for Pennsylvania veterans.
- Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 800-932-4632.
- Drug and Alcohol “Get Help Now” search: Resources for individuals seeking treatment services, searchable by location.
- Eldercare Locator: This U.S. government service helps people find home and community-based resources for seniors.
- Elder Helpers: Elder Helpers is a user-friendly, web-based service. Volunteers register to offer their services (transportation, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc.) based on their desire to help elders. The Elder Helpers program strives to safely and conveniently connect these dedicated, passionate volunteers with elders in their local communities. A $50 monthly donation to the organization by participants is required in order to request services.
- Eligibility.com: Provides a quick list of financial criteria for local and state assistance programs.
- The EveryONE Project: State and local information for navigation projects and resources.
- Fair Housing Council: Call 717-238-9540 for information on this program, which provides credit counseling services for low- to moderate-income people.
- Financial Counseling at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: Call 717-531-5069.
- Food stamps (SNAP): This program provides food stamps based on income criteria that include all of a family’s income. Call 800-692-7462.
- GoodRx: This site allows users to compare prescription costs at local pharmacies.
- HEALFundr: This site is a crowd-funding platform for medical needs.
- Hershey-area lodging: This list includes many hotels in the Hershey area that provide discounts to families of Penn State Health patients, as well as special services like the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge and Ronald McDonald House.
- Keep Kids Safe: Educational resources on child abuse and neglect.
- LeadingAge PA: This is an association of not-for-profit services for senior citizens.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Call 866-857-7095.
- Meals on Wheels: This national group provides home-delivered meals to senior citizens.
- Medical Assistance: Call 866-550-4355.
- Merck Patient Assistance Program: Call 800-727-5400 for details on this program, which provides medications/vaccines for those who can’t afford them.
- Mom’s Meals: This group provides high-quality meal solutions direct to the homes of seniors and patients nationwide. Customers choose every meal every order from a broad selection of entrees.
- National Hunger Hot Line: Call 866-348-6479 for information on food resources.
- Needymeds: An organization that provides drug assistance, drug coupons for prescription and over-the-counter medications, disease-specific assistance programs on a national and state level, and a locator for free and low-cost dental and medical clinics within 20 miles of a patient’s ZIP code.
- PACE and PACENET: These are Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs for older adults, which offer low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents 65 and older.
- PA Counseling Services: Call 855-272-1653 for details on PA Counseling’s mental health programs in various counties.
- PA Department of Health – COVID-19 resource page; also includes links in the menu to other health information, statistics, etc.
- PA Family Support Alliance: Educational resources, training and statistics about child abuse.
- PAN Foundation: The PAN Foundation offers nearly 70 disease-specific assistance programs to help patients pay for their out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance, travel expenses and health insurance premiums.
- Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: The Department of Agriculture provides nutritional resources and research statewide and locally.
- Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Assistance with educational resources on chemical dependency and treatment.
- Pennsylvania Department of Human Services: Human services information is available through the website and the helpline at 800-692-7462.
- Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles: Information on how physicians can revoke driver’s licenses and perform other medical reporting procedures.
- Pennsylvania Insurance Department: The department provides assistance with insurance obstacles, complaints and a list of local insurance companies available to consumers.
- Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation: This program provides equipment, modifications and financial assistance with return to work or school.
- Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute: This is a collaboration between Penn State Health and UPMC Pinnacle that provides behavioral health services to the residents of Central Pennsylvania and surrounding region. Call 800-995-8207 for assistance.
- Pennsylvania Waiver Program Independent Enrollment Broker: The Independent Enrollment Broker is a contracted statewide entity to facilitate and streamline the eligibility/enrollment process for applicants seeking services for several Pennsylvania waivers/programs.
- Personal Care Homes guide: This resource was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
- Philhaven Behavioral Health: Call 800-932-0359 for details on Philhaven’s inpatient and outpatient mental health programs.
- PillPack: This mail-order pharmacy packages pills in envelopes for each day and is accepted by many insurances.
- Prescription assistance at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: Call 717-531-2982 for information on this program, which assists with medication needs for underinsured or uninsured people.
- Prevention Produce: This program is part of the Penn State College of Medicine group Food as Medicine, led by Dr. Danny George. It allows medical students to be matched with patients within Penn State Health who have been referred by providers and identified to potentially benefit from a nutrition intervention program. The program involves the medical student meeting with the referred patient at a local farmer’s market four times over the course of six weeks. Each meeting consists of reviewing a packet of themed nutrition education materials, followed by shopping together in the market. A large benefit of this program is the interaction between student and patient, from guided learning to healthy advice while shopping. Also, this program aims to aid in access to fresh produce, as each patient is given $10 to spend in the market, per family member, up to four family members. For details, email Anna Scipioni at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ProduceRX: Through this Penn State College of Medicine program, doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants prescribe fresh produce to patients who can use the prescription to get reduced-rate fruits and vegetables. Participating providers determine eligibility, with undeserved populations and high-risk patients for conditions like diabetes and heart disease being primary targets. A newsletter and videos provide recipes and tips to healthy eating. For details, email Marina Mizell at email@example.com or Emma Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Property tax/rent rebate program: Call 800-772-5246.
- Psychiatric services at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: Call 717-531-8521.
- QUAD Foundation: The QUAD Foundation is committed to assisting and supporting survivors of spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegic paralysis.
- Rental Help for Pennsylvania (HUD): Provides assistance and information on public housing.
- Rx Assist: This Patient Assistance Program Center provides free medications for those who can’t afford them.
- Rx Hope: This Patient Assistance Program Center provides free medications for those who can’t afford them.
- SNAP benefits: Applying for food stamps based on income criteria considering the entire family’s income.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Federal program provides up-to-date research and educational information.
- Suicide Hotline: Call 800-273-8255.
- Travis Roy Foundation: Provides services to those with spinal cord injuries and their families.
- Tri-State Advocacy Project: Provides assistance with insurance denials and other community needs.
- United Disabilities Services Home Assistance: UDS provides assistance with home modifications for those with disabilities and those who are elderly.
- Cumberland County Health and Human Services
- Cumberland County Mental Health: Call 717-763-2222.
- Cumberland County support groups
- Holy Spirit Hospital Crisis Line: Call 717-763-2222.
- Perry County Family Center: Call 717-582-3656 for details on this center, which offers resources including financial literacy classes.
- Perry County Mental Health: Call 800-350-4357.
- Services available for Perry County residents
- Allison Hill Community Pantry: Call 717-232-3246 for information on this food pantry.
- Antioch Tabernacle: Call 717-233-1047 for information on this food pantry.
- Beacon Clinic: Call 717-775-1111 for information on this health clinic for underinsured people.
- Bethany Church of the Nazarene: Call 717-545-1633 for information on this food pantry.
- Bethesda Mission: Call 717-525-9052 for information on the Mission, which provides health care services, a soup kitchen and other support.
- Bread of Life: Call 717-567-3333 for information on this food pantry, which provides emergency food distribution, regular monthly food distribution and holiday baskets.
- Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness: Provides a variety of services, including lists of food, health and dental care options for homeless people.
- Changing Hands: This program provides reuse for assistive technology equipment and will provide home assessments to determine what home safety equipment may be needed.
- Christ Lutheran Church: Call 717-236-8382 for information on food vouchers.
- Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging: This county-based service provides assistance in the home, transportation, elder abuse resources, Meals on Wheels and health insurance counseling.
- Dauphin County Crisis Intervention: Provides support for people who are having a mental health crisis. Call 717-232-7511.
- Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Commission: Provides in-person intake appointments to assess substance treatment needs and internet resources for drugs and alcohol.
- Dauphin County “How do I…?” Resource Overview: Provides quick links on how to access various services in the county.
- Department of Human Services Phone numbers: County Assistance and other related phone numbers
- Derry Township Parks and Recreation: Call 717-533-7138 for information on Hershey-area parks.
- Downtown Daily Bread: Call 717-238-4717 for information on this food pantry.
- Dauphin County support groups: This list is compiled by Psychology Today.
- Friendship Community Center: Call 717-657-5635 for information on this center, which serves Harrisburg.
- Fresh Food Farmacy: Call 800-275-6401 for information on this program that focuses on food-related behavior and lifestyle change.
- Get Help Now: Individuals seeking treatment for addiction/dependency
- Hamilton Health Center: Call 717-232-9971 for information on this health clinic for underinsured people.
- Healthy Start and Baby Love: Call 717-909-1278 for information on this health clinic for underinsured mothers and children.
- Help Ministries: Call 717-238-2851 for information on food vouchers.
- Hershey Food Bank: Call 717-520-3143 for information on this food pantry.
- Housing and Urban Development: Housing authority assistance and public housing
- LionCare: A free medical clinic run by students of Penn State College of Medicine at Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg; also provideds mental health services. Call 717-257-4440, ext. 312 for details.
- Millennium Neighborhood Church: Call 717-234-2445 for information on food vouchers.
- Planned Parenthood: Call 717-234-3024 for information on the reproductive health services offered for underinsured people.
- Public county transportation Capital Area Transit (CAT): Bus routes, disability, senior applications. Use applications from CAT website for the most up to date version.
- Salvation Army Compassionate Closure Program: Through this program, qualified patients can receive funds for a small funeral service, cremation and urn after death. The patient and family cannot have more than $1,800 in assets; they must be from Cumberland County or Dauphin County; and there are requirements about how the patient passed. All religions are accepted. For details, call 717-233-6755.
- Shared Ministries: Call 717-232-0877 for information on food vouchers.
- St. Francis of Assisi: Call 717-236-4506 for information on this food pantry.
- YWCA of Greater Harrisburg: The YWCA offers a 24-hour hot line and individual and group mental health counseling, among other services. Call 800-654-1211 for the hot line.
- Arch Street Center: Arch Street Center supports the recovery of adults living with serious mental illness by providing social, moral and material support, recreational and hygiene facilities and fresh, nutritious meals in a safe, nurturing environment.
- Alpha and Omega Community Center: Call 717-394-3021 for information on this center, which also has a food pantry.
- Disability Empowerment Center of Lancaster and Lebanon Counties: DEC provides free and confidential services that prioritize self-determination, consumer control and personal choice to individuals of all ages, and with all types of disabilities.
- Family First Health: Call 717-299-4644 for information on this health clinic for underinsured people.
- Gears Community Center: Call 717-367-0119 for information on this center, which serves the Elizabethtown area.
- Hope within Community: Call 717-367-9797 for details on this clinic, which serves underinsured people.
- Housing Development Corporation Mid Atlantic: This Lancaster-based group owns or manages more than 3,500 affordable rental homes in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland serving 4,700 families, seniors and people with disabilities.
- Hunger Free Lancaster County: This group tries to ensure sustainable access to three healthy meals a day for all Lancaster County residents.
- Lancaster City Housing Authority: LCHA provides affordable housing to eligible single people, couples and families within the City of Lancaster through more than 550 public housing units in six communities.
- Lancaster County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services: BH/DS provides services to individuals with serious and persistent mental illness, children and youth with emotional disturbance, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and children
from birth to three years old who have developmenal delays.
- Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness: LCCEH is a network of health and human service providers, business leaders and private sector individuals working to eradicate homelessness in Lancaster City and County through service coordination, advocacy, public education, and community organizing.
- Lancaster County Council of Churches Food Hub: Food Hub provides fresh and healthy food to to 1,000 and more families a month.
- Lancaster County Crisis Intervention: Crisis Intervention is a 24-hour emergency mental health service provided for persons experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
- Lancaster County Drug and Alcohol Commission: This commission provide access to high-quality, community-based drug and alcohol prevention and education services for all citizens, and treatment services to uninsured and under-insured low-income citizens.
- Lancaster County Mental Health: Call 717-394-2631.
- Lancaster County Office of Aging: Offers a variety of resources for senior citizens, including a list of senior centers.
- Lancaster County support groups: This list is compiled by Psychology Today.
- Lancaster Family YMCA Community Health Programs: The YMCA employs evidence-based programs that help people reduce their risk of chronic disease, better manage chronic conditions and reclaim wellness after illness.
- Lancaster General Health low-cost dental services: These services are provided through Dental Access Lancaster County (DALCO).
- Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership: This groups offers a number of housing programs and resources.
- Lighten Up Lancaster County: This coalition of parents, students, educators, wellness professionals, health care providers, local government officials, recreation and fitness facilities, non-profits and businesses helps promote physical activity and healthy eating.
- Love INC of Lancaster County: A network of more than 165 Lancaster County churches from 24 different denominations that allows individual congregations to meet the needs of the community by connecting caring church volunteers with people in need of their skills.
- RASE Program of Lancaster: This program provides recovery coaching, recovery support groups, buprenorphine care coordination, annual events and all-day drop-in services for those recovering from addiction.
- Red Rose Transit Authority: The Red Rose Transit Authority exists to provide effective public transportation services to the citizens of Lancaster County.
- Southeast Lancaster Dental Clinic: Call 717-299-6371 for details on this low-cost clinic.
- United Way of Lancaster County resource guide: Links to a variety of services are available. There is also a link to No Wrong Door, which offers information on adoption, children’s services, daycare, selecting a child-care provider, disaster/crisis, drugs and alcohol, education, the public library system, the public school system, finances, government, grief counseling, health, housing/home repairs, legal, local municipalities/points of interest, mental health, military resources, recreation/leisure, service organizations, social services, special needs, support groups, transition, transportation and volunteer opportunities.
- Water Street Mission: Water Street Mission provides meals and shelter, as well as medical, dental, behavioral health, spiritual and career support to people who are homeless or at 200 percent of the poverty level or less.
- Welsh Mountain Dental Clinic: Call 717-354-4711 for information on this low-cost clinic.
- Caring Cupboard: Call 717-838-9493 for information on this food pantry, which serves Palmyra.
- Community Health Council of Lebanon County: This group is a coalition of individuals and organizations working together to encourage and support a safe, healthy, and substance-free community for every individual with a focus on youth. It offers resources related to teen pregnancy, suicide prevention, tobacco use and more.
- Compeer of Lebanon County: This program recruits, screens, trains and matches volunteers in one-to-one friendship relationships with adults who are receiving mental health treatment.
- Disability Empowerment Center of Lancaster and Lebanon Counties: DEC provides free and confidential services that prioritize self-determination, consumer control and personal choice to individuals of all ages, and with all types of disabilities.
- Jubilee Ministries Lebanon clothing store: 235 S. 12th St., Lebanon PA 17042
- Juniper Village at Lebanon: Personal care living community at 125 Birch Road, Lebanon, PA 17042; 717-272-8782
- Lebanon County Agency on Aging: Links to many different services in Lebanon county are available, including an eldercare daytime program, home support services, in-home care services, Meals on Wheels, senior community centers and more.
- Lebanon County Christian Ministries: LCCM serves as the food and clothing bank for Lebanon County. Eligibility for food and/or clothing is based on need, not income. An interview of the family or individual is used to determine the need. Interviews are also used to determine if other services or referrals to other agencies could be provided.
- Lebanon County Community Action Partnership: Services include child care assistance, transportation, case management, rental assistance, shelter assistance, bridge and transitional housing, shelter housing, information and referral, job readiness and life skills education.
- Lebanon County Housing and Redevelopment Authority: This organization offers applications for low-cost housing, among other services.
- Lebanon County Mental Health: Call 717-274-3363.
- Lebanon County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention Program: This program provides services to residents who have certain mental health diagnoses, a diagnosis of an intellectual disability or to children from birth to 3 years old who have the risk of developmental delay.
- Lebanon Family Health Services: This program offers education, nutrition and reproductive health services to the uninsured and underinsured families of Lebanon County with emphasis on women, infants and children.
- Lebanon Free Clinic: This clinic provides primary and behavioral health care to those living in Lebanon County who are uninsured. Doctors, nurses and support staff volunteer their time and provide health care services funded by donations.
- Lebanon Ridge Community Clinic: Call 717-272-2700 for information on this medical and dental clinic for underinsured people.
- Lebanon Valley Volunteers in Medicine: This free health clinic serves residents of Lebanon County, 18 to 64 years old, who are uninsured or underinsured.
- Meals on Wheels: Meals are delivered to eligible persons age 60 and over who can’t afford or are unable to prepare meals. This program is offered through the Lebanon County Area Agency on Aging.
- New Path Homeless Family Ministry (part of Jubilee Ministries): The New Path program offers shelter and in-depth care, including training and education, to men, women and children.
- Salvation Army: 2211 E. Cumberland St., Lebanon, PA 17042 and 1031 Guilford St., Lebanon, PA 17046
- Shadow Stone Community Center: Call 717-832-3850 for information on this center, which serves Palmyra.
- South Central Food Bank: Call 717-564-1700 for information on this food pantry and its fresh produce distribution program.
- Spang Crest: A Luthercare Community: Personal care living community at 945 Duke St., Lebanon, PA 17042; 717-274-1495
- United Way of Lebanon County resource guide: Links to a variety of services are available. There is also a link to No Wrong Door, which offers information on adoption, children’s services, daycare, selecting a child-care provider, disaster/crisis, drugs and alcohol, education, the public library system, the public school system, finances, government, grief counseling, health, housing/home repairs, legal, local municipalities/points of interest, mental health, military resources, recreation/leisure, service organizations, social services, special needs, support groups, transition, transportation and volunteer opportunities.
A number of resources are available specifically for people with diabetes.
The following are potential resources for smoking cessation.
The following are potential resources for translation needs.
A number of transportation-specific resources are available for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
The following are potential resources for vision needs.
The following are potential resources for weight loss needs.
The following are potential resources for organ transplant needs.