As a little girl, DaNesha Mack was fascinated by germs and knew she wanted to work in healthcare. She thought she might want to be a doctor. In college she was able to explore different aspects of health and medicine and found her niche in public health. She started to study health equity and took courses in health and social justice.
After school, DaNesha worked in New York until her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She moved to the Philadelphia area to support her mom and saw an opening at ChesPenn for a Patient Health Educator in our new Complex Care Program. The program was similar to work she had done in New York. She came to our Center for Family Health at Coatesville for an interview and tour with Sheila Church, Director of Patient and Community Services, and loved what she saw. In March 2019, DaNesha joined Dr. Tina Ahmadinejad and other staff in developing the new program, which focuses on patients with multiple chronic illnesses who are high utilizers of hospital emergency services.
DaNesha’s role in the Complex Care Program was to reach out to patients who had not been seen recently, schedule appointments for them, and evaluate their needs through a “social determinants of health (or SDOH)” lens. That meant assessing their housing stability and safety, food access, ability to pay their utilities, transportation access, relationships with other household members, and other factors that could influence their wellbeing. Her goal was to find out what social barriers were contributing to their frequent health emergencies, reconnect them to healthcare, and help them find resources to address their other challenges. The most common issues she found were transportation, food insecurity, and safe housing. With so many challenges in their lives, coming to the doctor was often not a priority until they had a health crisis. For some patients the primary was poor mental health and lack of access to a psychiatrist or other behavioral health professional, which meant that they sought help in the ER.
As the program evolved, DaNesha’s role also evolved. In 2021 she was made Complex Care Team Lead, supervising the Community Health Workers who were also engaged in outreach to patients. During the pandemic, the CHWs transitioned to other roles and DaNesha once again took on more of the work of reconnecting patients to care. She has also been engaged in other projects, including the Catalyst Program partnership with Manna of Philadelphia to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, in partnership with Crozer. She also participated in the CAPs (Chester Asthma Prevention) Program for children with persistent moderate to severe asthma.
Since joining ChesPenn, DaNesha has completed a master’s degree in business management with a focus on public health. Her training will be an asset in her new role as Program Manager, where she will continue building on our programmatic, outcomes-driven approach to care provision. She will work with senior leadership to develop program goals and workflows to improve health metrics in areas such as hypertension, diabetes, and reproductive health. Her hope is to expand our programs and standardize them across all three of our sites.
ChesPenn’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Letitia O’Kicki, had this observation about DaNesha, ”
DaNesha is the ultimate professional – she has had different roles with ChesPenn and every role she has done exemplary work. She is a great team player and leader. A champion for patients. The achievement of her degree, Master of Science in Management, indicates her intellect, curiosity and ambition. She has integrated her new skill set into a new role at ChesPenn – Program Director. DaNesha has already demonstrated her abilities in this new role. I am honored to be working with DaNesha.”
DaNesha loves her work in community health and sees herself continuing to grow her career in program development and quality improvement. We are fortunate to benefit from her training, talent, and dedication as she continues her career journey with ChesPenn.