Stephanie had lost her home. She and her family were living in a hotel and didn’t have regular access to nutritious food. To complicate matters, Stephanie suffers from a chronic illness that affects her daily. She needs multiple medications to manage her condition, and when she’s sick, she can’t work.
Enter Jessica Hines, Community Health Worker (CHW) for Health Care Access Now (HCAN). Stephanie’s physician referred her to HCAN, and she enrolled in the Adult Care Coordination program. And Stephanie’s life changed.
Immediate positive change
When Stephanie first met Jessica, she was nervous. After all, she was at a low point in her life. She didn’t want anyone to judge her. But the opposite happened: Jessica made Stephanie feel comfortable. Stephanie could tell that Jessica had her best interests at heart. “She took time to understand me, and what I’m going through,” Stephanie says.
Jessica did what she could to make immediate positive changes in Stephanie’s life, starting with providing gift cards to purchase nutritious food from the grocery store, rather than nearby convenience and dollar stores. Then, together, they began the hard work of identifying and clearing the hurdles that were complicating Stephanie’s life and affecting her health outcomes.
Now, Stephanie is reaching goals. She and her family are living in an apartment, getting it furnished and turning it into a home.
Trust the process
Working with Jessica has opened Stephanie up to trusting others and taking care of herself. Stephanie’s chronic illness is made worse by stress, and sometimes she feels overwhelmed by the demands of work in combination with taking care of her home and family. Jessica has helped Stephanie to recognize that she needs to put her health first, allowing others to take care of themselves—and even take care of her.
“I’m used to taking care of everybody,” Stephanie says. “But Jessica reminds me that I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself.”
The work of overcoming obstacles can seem endless. “It’s hard to ask for help. I like to work for what I get, and I never want anyone to feel used or taken advantage of,” says Stephanie.
But Jessica helps keep Stephanie on track and working toward her goals. This kind of relationship can mean the difference between succumbing to hardship and persevering. Having someone to remind you that progress isn’t linear, and setbacks naturally happen, can keep you on track. As a CHW, Jessica also has access to multiple resources, so when one avenue proves to be a dead end, she usually has a suggestion for a new turn to take.
Jessica has also encouraged Stephanie to make and maintain friendships. Stephanie says that Jessica’s steady presence and trustworthiness has rekindled her belief in people’s kind nature, making her more likely to trust those offering help.
Stephanie is working hard with Jessica, clearing barricades to stabilizing her health. “I’m taking it seriously. Knowing that Jessica is only a phone call or a text away keeps me positive,” she says. “I’ve made progress. I’m always focused on what’s next. Jessica has been a friend, a mentor, and a listening ear.”