When Taneasha Muonio joined People’s Center Clinics & Services as its Substance Abuse Program Manager in May 2018, she came with a wealth of practical knowledge and experience. Just a few weeks before being hired, she completed an internship at People’s Center in case management and earned a bachelor’s degree from Augsburg University with a double major in biology and psychology. However, her passion for equity, empathy and patient care have been with her for years.
In her new role, Taneasha works with about 150 patients dealing with substance abuse. She closely coordinates her work with doctors in order to integrate patients’ medical and behavioral health care. Her professional philosophy echoes People’s Center’s: Meet people where they are at. “I want people to know that my actions line up with my words,” she adds.
As Taneasha explains, “Obviously we want our patients to all stop using opioids and other substances, but I strive to take a realistic approach in terms of harm reduction.” This often means being creative in recommending solutions. She connects patients with alternative treatment options such as yoga, meditation, and therapeutic conversations.
Taneasha’s understanding of People’s Center patients doesn’t just come from her professional experience. As she observes, “I grew up low income, on Section 8 housing, on food stamps. I’ve lived the life many of our patients are living. That helps me find common ground. Also, I had to work the system myself, so I know how hard that can be.”
Although Taneasha’s passion, drive, and go-getter mentality have long been present, these traits were cultivated during her time at Augsburg University, where she earned her degrees. Taneasha feels that Augsburg’s community-oriented mission is what attracted her to the institution and inspired her to deeply engage with her community when she applied to intern at People’s Center. “I’ve always been extremely passionate about community and community health. I took what lead me to Augsburg, and I brought that with me to this experience.”
In Taneasha, seriousness, purpose, and enthusiasm all come together. “People’s Center is different,” she emphasizes. “We function by prioritizing the patient. Whatever you’re dealing with, when you’re ready, the support is here and the people are here for you.”