Inspiring the Next Generation - An HSNT Patient Story

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Haleemah Sanders is a young Denton-born-and-raised woman ready to start a new chapter in her life. She’s finished her high school academics and is in the process of enrolling into college – an exciting time in any young person’s life. However, there was one small little hurdle she had to cross first: her school’s required vaccinations. Haleemah had been homeschooled all her life and had not had the opportunity to get the vaccines that children usually get when they enter the school system.

“Once I completed my high school and was ready to go to college, I needed to get all these shots at once,” Haleemah says, “which was definitely a lot!”

Haleemah visited HSNT’s health center on Loop 288 at the Serve Denton Center, and as her first visit, she was impressed with the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff.

“I saw that there was a box of food in there for people to take what they need, and I was touched by that, and I liked that there was a little play area for babies because I have a baby sister and she enjoyed it! It was comforting.”

When Haleemah was called in the exam room, initially she was seen by one of HSNT’s male MAs who took her blood pressure, and Haleemah had a slight concern about this. Sometimes for women patients, it’s more comfortable for them to see a female provider, and this was the case with Haleemah.

“I thought he was actually the doctor, and so I thought to myself ‘um, is there a way to switch with a female?’ But then came in Nora, and I was super happy!”

Nora Aliev, FNP joined the HSNT team last year and has a wealth of experience working in community health. Haleemah was very pleased with Nora’s bedside manner, but what was even more surprising to Haleemah was that, like herself, Nora was also a Muslim woman.

“[Nora] is also a Muslim hijabi (a woman who wears the hijab garment), so I felt very comfortable with her,” Haleemah says. “I felt like I could tell her all my worries.”

Haleemah is African-American and Asian, and coupled with being a Muslim woman, there are a lot of intersecting identities at play in her situation. It’s sometimes the unfortunate result that women, racial minorities, and ethnic minorities don’t receive the care that they need due to biases that might be present in a healthcare provider. However, in her visit with HSNT, Haleemah didn’t feel this way at all.

“I didn’t feel like there was anything concerning about me being a minority,” Haleemah says. “What mattered was that I was a patient. A lot of times when I’ve gone [to a provider], it felt rushed, or the shots were painful, and then they were like ‘okay you’re free to go’. This experience was rather different because it felt very caring…. There was one shot that was going someplace I was uncomfortable with, right underneath my bicep area, and the nurse stepped back and stopped and made sure I was okay. From that moment on I realized that the staff really cared about my wellbeing.”

For her college and career path, Haleemah plans on becoming a nurse, and after her experience at HSNT she’s more confident in that choice than ever.

“It actually really inspired me to pursue that even more, just the level of hospitality I experienced…I want to do that as well in my own career in the future.”