Community Health Center Patient Stories
What this pandemic has so clearly illustrated is that a crisis of this magnitude affects us all, and that we’re all in this together. This is something that has been further ingrained into my psyche by working so closely with our member community health centers. Community health centers have always been at the forefront of serving all community members, it’s who they have always been and it’s who they are now – serving on the front lines of this pandemic.
After not seeing or hearing from my neighbor for over a few weeks, I called over our shared backyard fence to see how “S” was doing. It was then (while perched precariously on a lawn chair to see over the fence) I learned of their recent battle with COVID-19, a battle made even more difficult by loss of employee insurance due to COVID-related furloughing. S was battling symptoms for weeks and didn’t know how to get medical assistance without insurance. S learned of the Hayward Fire Department’s testing for local residents – and their fears were confirmed – they had COVID. After two weeks their symptoms had not eased and they knew they needed to talk with a doctor, after reaching out to various medical providers with no luck, S researched and found Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center – in our own neighborhood!
The Tiburcio Vasquez staff was so helpful and attentive regardless of my ability to pay and I’ll never forget that. – S
S emailed them their concerns; they responded the very next day and addressed all of S’s concerns and provided them with advice. They followed up with phone calls, and really put S at ease because it took another two weeks for their symptoms to begin to clear.
S didn’t know about community health centers before this and now S knows they’ll never forget them.
Of course it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the nature of something as unprecedented as a global pandemic, but it becomes a lot easier if we start to think in terms of “community.” Specifically, how we take care of our community, our family, and of course, our neighbors. This virus will pass, but what remains behind is how we as a society remembered our humanity and cared for our most vulnerable community members which can sometimes include our neighbors. So let’s all look out for one another so that we can all come out on the other side of this – together.
CLICK FOR PATIENT STORIES FROM OUR CARE NEIGHBORHOOD DEPARTMENT
Our Care Neighborhood is an intensive case management program that serves patients at all eight of Alameda County’s FQHCs. Care Neighborhood services, including care coordination and connection to community resources, are provided by community health workers.
LifeLong Medical Care
G, a member living in an SRO, was referred to the Care Neighborhood program by a LifeLong Medical Care provider. G suffers from a traumatic brain injury that has severely impaired their ability to maintain housing over the past 5+ years, leading to multiple eviction cases that forced them to continually face homelessness. When G began working with Care Neighborhood, they were being faced with another eviction due to their room not meeting the cleanliness standards of the building. Unfortunately G’s case did not fall under the protections of California’s eviction moratoriums, and if G were to lose this eviction case, they would have no housing options to turn to and would have to return to the street.
The Care Neighborhood Community Health Worker assigned to G’s case, concerned about G’s safety especially during to the recent shelter in place order when he would have limited access to essential resources, made a report to APS. Thanks to the tireless advocacy and coordination efforts put forth by the Care Neighborhood CHW, G’s new APS worker was able to get the information needed to facilitate a professional cleaning of G’s room. In order to strengthen G’s position in the eviction case however, a long term plan to keep his room clean was needed, prompting G’s CHW to connect G to IHSS.
With these supports in place, G was able to win the eviction case, and is now able to shelter in place safely in stable housing.
Axis Community Health
R has been living with serious chronic healthcare conditions for years, many of which have placed them at high risk for severe complications if they were to contract COVID19. Needless to say, R was very concerned for their health after being hospitalized due to an episode of heart failure. Thankfully, R was able to recover at the hospital, but upon discharge to their home, R realized they did not have everything they needed to shelter in place safely. Most importantly, R did not have access to healthy foods that were appropriate for their health conditions. Considering how risky and burdensome it would be for R to get to the grocery store, affordable food delivery was their only safe option. It was at this time that R was referred to the Care Neighborhood program by Axis staff.
Shortly after being referred, a Care Neighborhood community health worker contacted R to assess which resources may be available to them. By the end of their first conversation, R and his CHW had worked together to submit a referral to Anthem Blue Cross’ meal delivery program.
R began receiving meal delivery services within a matter of a few days, providing them healthy meals medically tailored to his chronic conditions, and mitigating his risk of exposure to a potentially life-threatening virus.
LifeLong Medical Care
B, is not a stranger to the Care Neighborhood program. B has accomplished a tremendous amount with their Care Neighborhood community health worker, working hard to gain access to essential public benefits from both county and federal programs. While these benefits have provided essential support in their life, once the shelter in place order was announced, B found themself in a difficult position. B is vulnerable to a COVID19 infection due to their age, and in order to access the grocery stores and food resources they normally would, B would have to put themself at risk of exposure. It was at this point that B turned to their CHW for support. It was determined that B would not be eligible for meal delivery programs from outside organizations, so B’s CHW looked within her own organization. Fortunately B’s CHW found help from a fellow Lifelong clinic.
In collaboration with LifeLong’s Trust clinic site, B began to receive grocery deliveries to their home, keeping them safe and fed during this troubling time.