Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Workforce: Tressa Archer, Health Center Medical Assistant

What do your taxes pay for? It’s Our Money is getting to know some of the 25,000 people who provide city services in Philadelphia, to find out what they do, how much they get paid, and how their work affects you.

The Workforce: Tressa Archer, Health Center Medical Assistant

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What do your taxes pay for? It’s Our Money is getting to know some of the 25,000 people who provide city services in Philadelphia, to find out what they do, how much they get paid, and how their work affects you.

Who: Tressa Archer, Health Center Medical Assistant

Salary range for position: $33,489-$36,542

Before attending the now-closed McCarrie School of Health and Sciences, Tressa Archer contacted the school to make sure it had courses for phlebotomy. She wanted to draw blood. 

She graduated in 1994, and until 2001 worked at various private sector hospitals throughout Philadelphia. But, Archer says, she wasn’t reaching the type of patients she wanted to.

“I wanted to work with the community more,” says the Germantown native. “At the hospitals, we had more people who were covered by insurance.” So she took a job with one of the city’s eight public health centers.

What she does

At Public Health Care Center 9 – near where she grew up, and now lives, in Germantown – Archer works with patients receiving primary care as well as additional services such as flu shots. She assists doctors in checking heights, weights and blood pressure levels and works in the family planning department of the facility

Archer says most of her patients are also drawn to the health centers because of convenience, or, “one-stop shopping.” Patients can receive dental care in the same place their child gets an immunization shot or a female meets with an OB-GYN.

Because of the wide array of services the health center provides, Archer says the work is sometimes hard and tedious, especially when vacant staff positions aren’t filled and existing staff take on additional tasks. 

“But, we do what we have to do, and the work gets done,” she adds.

How she lives

Switching to the public sector gave Archer a pension, something she appreciates. But not getting a raise for the last three years, due to freezes on salary increases, is a difficult aspect of working for the city, she says.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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