“I get so much hope from people despite poverty and their lack of resources – I have seen the human spirit thrive and survive.” These are the words of Heather Reynolds, an NHSC provider, educator, National Advisory Council member, Alumni and Ambassador with the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).
Working with the underserved is a family tradition for Ms. Reynolds. “My grandmother in Jamaica took children into her home and helped impoverished families on the island.” Ms. Reynolds has had a notable career, dedicating her life to those in the greatest need. She was first introduced to the NHSC while in an accelerated program at Yale. Several of the nurse midwives, a couple of years ahead of her, were members of the Corps. Her intent was to join the Corps and work with Navajo populations. This changed for her when a classmate invited her to work in a rural clinic in Florida. She worked with Latina and Haitian migrants at that clinic, Medicaid and Medicare eligible recipients in Colorado and has returned to New Haven to pursue the population that she loves working with the most.
She has been published in research areas such as breastfeeding, midwifery service administration, group prenatal care, adolescent health care and adolescent risk reduction and has been honored in her career with both a Kellogg Foundation Student Fellowship, and a Primary Care Policy Fellow of the U.S. Public Health Service. One of her most personal and rewarding honor is serving and caring for two generations of women at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Ms. Reynolds has become an integral part of her community. She is active in advocating for health service planning and policy development around health care delivery. She is a commissioner on the New Haven Health Department and has lent her voice to an initiative of the city of New Haven, called Health Matter’s New Haven. This initiative re-energizes the community and works to eliminate violence in the city. She speaks with young and old alike. At senior citizen centers, she engages seniors on health issues related to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders and preventative services that would decrease morbidity in this, mostly African American and Latino population. At high schools, she counsels young women to stay in school and avoid rapid repeat child birth. She shared a story about a 13-year old carrying twins. Now, this same young woman is working at the hospital, finishing her education and has no more children.
“My dream has always been to work with the underserved and those who lack resources. The NHSC made my dream a reality.”