When I saw this photo it reminded me of a patient I saw today. She struck me as particularly brave, a woman who persisted against the odds. Since opening Ashewell, I have noticed that many more individuals like this woman have come into my life.
As a child this woman had an infection which resulted in heart disease later in life. She was not a woman of privilege and continues to work for $9/hour cleaning despite a history of multiple heart operations. She has not qualified for disability because she has continued to work and she has not qualified for medicaid because in NC she makes too much to do so. Thus, she has gone without insurance because through the exchange her subsidy would still leave her with a premium of over $500/month which she cannot afford.
So she came to Ashewell. She heard about us on the radio and told me that at that moment thought, “Thank god.” She told me that she had not had medication which she required for several years. She told me she had an abnormal mammogram several years ago and was unable to afford a follow up study. She has never had a primary care doctor.
Today we welcomed her as a new patient and listened to her story. We reviewed her medical history, ordered a full set of blood work for $15 and examined her. She explained that the same tests were done a few years earlier for several hundreds of dollars. We arranged for her medication which is only $9 for 90 days, set her up with an organization in town, associated with Mission Hospital, which provides free mammograms. She has gotten much needed care over the years from our local hospital and cardiologists and we can’t forget how important this institution and its providers are for our community.
This patient will return for a physical and pap-smear and in a few months we will have caught up on years’ worth of missed primary care.
My day was brightened by this interaction and thus I wanted to share it with you. So many of our neighbors live in the shadows with regard to their routine care. It is important that we shine a light on their situations and their resilience.