Cone Health Community Program Manager Jamilla Pinder helping east Greensboro tornado victims

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- An advocate. A voice. A bridge. You could use all three to describe Jamilla Pinder.

“We all have been given a purpose,” Pinder said. “And when I look at the work I do, it’s not work. It’s not a job. It’s a calling.”

You could make a strong argument no one has a finger on the “pulse” of east Greensboro as she.

She’s been at it a while.

She started with Cone Health 21 years ago checking people into the emergency room while she was a single mom and a student at North Carolina A&T State University. Since then, she’s held several patient care and administrative positions moving up to her current job or “calling:” Community Care Program Manager.

In this position, she “connects” with people in the community and helps them find (This is where the “bridge” description comes into play.) programs that can assist in meeting their needs, be it health care, housing, even where to go and buy fresh groceries.

“Again, we’re trying to meet people where they are and let people know what the means are to get the access that they need,” she said.

Recently, much of this “bridge” work has involved those in east Greensboro affected by the April 15 tornado.

“A lot of people rented through here,” she told me as we rode through the tornado-ravaged areas recently. “Some of the landlords decided not to rebuild.”

So, Pinder says, many are still staying in hotels or with family members. That’s why you still see many homes still abandoned and damaged. Others, in which the owners had insurance, have been or are currently being rebuilt or repaired.

But Pinder also says many tornado victims are dealing with issues you can’t see.

“It’s the mental health piece. The depression, the anxiety,” she said. “Think of the anxiety. You left. You came home. Your house is not there or you left and your house is in shambles.”

Through her work with Cone Health’s new Renaissance Family Medicine Clinic on Phillips Avenue, Pinder’s helping these individuals connect with mental health professionals in addition to meeting their other medical needs and linking them to programs that can help when it comes to paying for that care.

In the meantime, she has a message for the entire community:

“Don’t let the fact that this is northeast Greensboro, southeast Greensboro, ‘Oh my Gosh, I can’t go over there.’ be a reason why you don’t come over here,” she said. “Get to know your neighbor.”

For more information on Cone Health’s Renaissance Family Medicine Clinic including hours and appointment information, click here.

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