NorthShore Health Centers started as a small clinic in Portage High School over 20 years ago and has grown into a pillar of healthcare in the Region with over 20 locations serving thousands of people every day, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
That level of growth was made possible by hundreds of dedicated employees over the years. Some who were there for NorthShore’s first steps continue to work diligently to spread the word of NorthShore’s mission and ensure as many people as possible have access to quality care. Maysha Carlson, a community relations specialist, and Bea Mitchell, with patient services.
Carlson , who started at NorthShore 16 years ago, has been in the same role the entire time. She tours the Region, giving presentations and spreading the word about NorthShore’s services and mission.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a business or an office and heard someone say ‘oh my gosh, you’re an angel, God sent you to me,’” she said. “That’s because a lot of people don’t have insurance, and they didn’t know about our services and that we take care of people with or without insurance, from pediatrics to geriatrics.”
There are few places that she won’t visit to spread the word. She’s opened up a booth or given presentations at schools, health fairs, church groups, different businesses, Kiwanis meetings, Lion’s Club gatherings, and even a funeral on one occasion.
“I’m always promoting, whether I’m on the clock or off the clock,” she said. “There are always people that need healthcare.”
Food pantries are a common place for her to visit, and families have grown to recognize her over the years.
“I do enjoy going to the food pantry,” she said. “I’ve made numerous friends just from seeing people all the time. They know me on a first-name basis, and the kids will say ‘hey mom, there’s the NorthShore lady!’ I just love it, I love helping people.”
One of her primary goals is to break through people’s apprehensions about getting care – be it general nerves or financial worries.
“I meet so many people who say ‘oh I don’t need a doctor’ or ‘I don’t go to the doctor’ unless they’re bleeding or have a broken bone,” she said. “That’s just a huge misconception all around the world. So much of healthcare is about prevention. We need our yearly exams, and once you reach a certain age there are different tests you need to take. I just want them to keep us in mind.”
NorthShore’s core philosophy – providing quality care to everyone, no matter their income or insurance status, drives everything Carlson does.
“I believe in the mission, I love the mission,” she said. “That’s why I’ve been here 16 years. Every day it’s a part of my life. Everyone deserves quality healthcare regardless of their ability to pay. That’s why I go out there and talk to the people of our community, so they know where to find it.”
When Carlson persuades someone to visit NorthShore, there is a good chance they will find themselves chatting with Mitchell at some point. As a member of the patient services team, she helps people connect with and understand the different resources at NorthShore, and makes sure they can get prompt convenient appointments.
“Patients have certain doctors they want to see, and if they can’t get their schedules to match up we’re the ones who have to smooth it out,” she said. “We make sure that they do get seen, make sure that they’re comfortable and get what they need. It all goes back to customer service.”
Mitchell joined the NorthShore team 14 years ago, getting her start as a member of their Inreach department. She helped pregnant women and their children get covered by Medicaid, and formed strong bonds with many of those she assisted.
“I made a lot of good friends,” she said. “I still see a lot of those patients to this day, and have watched the babies grow.”
Eventually, her skill at communicating with patients saw her transition into her current role. Every day, she breaks down NorthShore’s different services – everything from primary care, dentistry, and chiropractic care, to simply helping patients find healthcare coverage that fits their needs.
“One of the main things I do is make callers aware of what we offer here,” she said. “A lot of times they’ll come in and they won’t have insurance, we can help them get covered and be a one-stop-shop. They can see their doctor, and get everything done at one time. That impresses a lot of patients.”
She loves coming into the office every day and chatting with patients but also credited her team with making it an even better experience.
“The people,” she said. “The team I’m on here is amazing. Everybody helps one another. I just really enjoy being here at NorthShore.”
Mitchell takes a lot of pride in NorthShore’s growth and is excited to see more and more people around Northwest Indiana receive access to their mission-driven care.
“When I hired in, we had about 90 employees,” she said.
“Now we’ve probably got about 400. I’ve watched it continue to grow, with all these different satellite offices around the region. A big reason for that growth is that we treat our patients well and we’re completing our mission not only here in Portage where we started, but all over the place.”
To learn more about NorthShore Health Centers, visit northshorehealth.org.