Meet Melissa Belbahri, Nurse, Epiphany Center Pediatric Clinic
August 4, 2014
1. What are you working on at Epiphany Center? I serve over sixty children and women at the Epiphany Center Pediatric Clinic alongside our pediatrician Dr. Clem Donahue. Many children are welcome at the clinic for primary care including the residential children, the kids from the Parent-Child Care Center, and former clients’ children. I handle health assessments and advocate for each recovery client. I’m excited to be working toward a certification on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. I also enjoy teaching a weekly health education class for all of the women in recovery. And someday, I would love to open a Women’s Clinic here.
2. How did you come to work at Epiphany Center? Back in 1999, I was looking for a weekend job while I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and discovered Epiphany Center. Later, I took the opportunity to work briefly as a public health nurse, but I returned to Epiphany Center because I really missed working with the women and children. It’s such a unique opportunity these days to be able to serve the same families over a number of years and watch them develop and thrive.
3. What do you most enjoy about working here? I love collaborating with Dr. Clem and the families because we get to see the children and women grow over several years. It feels as if we’re a country doctor and nurse, but in the city. Something that makes me happy each day is simply seeing the children playing outside in the playground. It’s a joy to see the kids thriving in our wonderful childcare setting.
4. What have you learned while working at Epiphany Center? I have learned how to work with the whole family versus just the individual family member. I have learned that recovery is not something that ends when the women graduate from Epiphany’s program. Recovery is an ongoing journey. I have also learned that the reasons for abusing substances are very complex.
5. How do you initially notice clients are beginning to change as a result of their time at Epiphany Center? One of the signs is they begin to take care of healthcare and dental issues that may have been neglected and put on the back burner.
6. Specifically, within the last few weeks, what “little victories” have you witnessed clients celebrating? I was happy to see that some clients recognized they can quit smoking cigarettes and survive just fine.
7. Can you share a success story? I think it depends on how you define success. Many of our moms were able to keep their families together. That in and of itself is a huge success.
8. Do you recall a moment or memory during your time at Epiphany Center that changed you? I’m inspired everyday by little stories. For instance, today, I was happy to hear from a client who was taking a college class. She proudly remarked that she was ahead of the game, having already learned about some of the topics in the health education class that I teach here at the clinic.
9. What or who inspires you most? People who are non-judgmental of others despite differences are inspiring to me. St. Louise de Marillac, the patron saint of social workers, is also an inspiration. She was way ahead of her time (back in the 1600’s) caring for the poor, and today she serves as the ideal example of working with the underserved.
10. Of the five major Vincentian values of Respect, Compassionate Service, Simplicity, Advocacy for the Poor, and Creativity, which one is your favorite to practice and why? Respect for others was instilled in me at a very young age. Treating everyone equally is very important to me. I admire and respect every person who comes through the doors of Epiphany Center for help.
Image found here.