Laura: A Diabetic's Inspiration
Laura, a former software engineer, made the decision to leave her job and move to Jefferson County to care for her terminally ill parents more that a decade ago. Prior to the move, she received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes with numerous complications. Since she was without health insurance, she began coming to Eastern Panhandle CARE Clinic (EPCC) in Ranson, right outside of Charles Town.
EPCC was able to provide the necessary medications to treat her conditions through its in-house pharmacy. These medications would have cost her over $3000 per month if she were paying out of pocket, which she could not afford without an income.
Though Laura received education and guidance about eating healthier and increasing her activity level to help control her disease, her medical state significantly declined. She was further diagnosed with Stage 3 chronic kidney disease, which then progressed to Stage 4. Treatment options at Stage 5 would be dialysis, transplant, or hospice. Her obesity eliminated her from being a transplant candidate.
In 2012, with support and encouragement from the providers at EPCC, Laura decided to begin a weight loss program and to exercise regularly. She began to lose weight and her energy began to improve. She lost 150 lbs. over the course of the next year. Now only two generic medications are necessary to control her conditions. Her kidney function, which was 26% at its low point, rebounded to 50%, which her nephrologist can only describe as a miracle.
Laura is a regular guest speaker when EPCC gives public tours of the clinic. She continues to provide others with the motivation to take control of their health and lifestyle.
A Get Well, Live Well Success Story
James suffered a severe back injury on the job resulting in three surgeries. He experienced severe pain and was not able to work. His income from an employment settlement was just dollars over the income limit to receive social security disability and he cound not afford health insurance, so he went years without health care.
By the time he became a patient at Eastern Panhandle CARE Clinic (EPCC), he weighted 335 lbs. and was diagnosed as a diabetic. The weight had caused pinched nerves and rendered him nearly immobile. James was extremely motivated to help himself and enrolled in the "Get Well, Live Well" program. With his committment to lifestyle changes and the help of the clinic's nurse educator, Barbara, he learned about healthy eating and setting physical activity goals.
Beginning in February 2013, James began walking just five minutes a day. He is now walking two to five miles a day and has lost about one hundred pounds. He has been able to control his diabetes with fewer medications and reports he is now pain free.
James credits much of his success to the support and mentoring he received at EPCC. He says, "I didn't want to disappoint Barbara."
Good Samaritan Clinic stops progress of cancer for woman.
For the past few years, Mary has been bringing her husband and brother to dental appointments at Susan Dew Hoff Memorial Clinic (SDH) in W. Milford, but she took no time to take care of herself. Finally, this year, the staff at SDH were able to talk her into getting her own oral care done, as she wouldn’t be a good caretaker if she became sick from her own bad teeth. Over the course of about three months, all of her remaining teeth were pulled and her dentures were fitted. She is one of the first patient SDH's staff has seen who actually got out of the chair and danced and hugged everyone when she got her teeth. She said it was the best day of her life, as it was her daughter’s birthday, too. The WVU dental students who were assisting that night didn’t know what to do. SDH did the work for free and the Donated Dental Program, in Charleston, paid for her dentures.
Northern Panhandle man breathes easier because of Wheeling Health Right.
Patient “Ralph” came to Wheeling Health Right (WHR) with a very large tumor on his nose. He had suffered with this tumor which caused him to appear deformed. People were constantly staring at him or ignoring him because he wasn’t “normal”.
WHR's Physician Assistant (PA) referred him to Plastic Surgery for removal of the tumor. The referral was denied because they felt it was being done strictly for cosmetic reasons.
Wheeling Health Right's PA, fully understanding the issues “Ralph” was facing, referred him to Dr. Tiu to determine if there was significant clinical issues warranting the surgery. Dr. Tiu assessed him, personally called Plastics and asked for immediate surgery as the tumor was occluding his airway and rapidly approaching his brain.
Plastics did the surgery and the patient has a new “lease on life”. In his words, “not only can I breathe but I look normal now. I can have a life instead of avoiding people.”
Susan no longer fears living with cancer.
“Susan” a young patient of Wheeling Health Right (WHR), came to the clinic after losing her insurance at her place of employment. At 33, the clinic discovered she had a family history of breast cancer. A routine examination revealed a lump in her breast. She has already undergone chemotherapy and completed radiation therapy. Now she must undergo a bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy, and oophorectomy since she tested positive for the genetic mutation.
Although she has experienced some major hurdles at the age of 33, she is very grateful she will live a productive life and not fear further cancer. “Susan” is so grateful for Wheeling Health Right and Amanda Cummins, PA, who is her primary care provider.
WV Health Right assists woman access preventive care.
L.B., a 64 year-old uninsured woman, came in to WV Health Right (WVHR) in Charleston in early July 2014 as a walk-in complaining of generally “feeling bad”. She was immediately triaged and treated for high blood pressure (210/120). L.B. was not on any medications when she presented at the clinic but reported she had been experiencing jaw and chest pain for several months. The Nurse Practitioner (NP) also found a heart murmur while performing an exam on L.B. and ordered an echogram. L.B. was referred to one of the clinic’s volunteer cardiologists who ordered a stress test and CT of coronary arteries. It is anticipated L.B. will be scheduled for a cardiac catheterization and/or angioplasty to open her clogged arteries. Her blood pressure has also been stabilized through medication therapy. In addition to the medical treatment L.B. has received in the four to six weeks since she became a WVHR patient, the clinic also enrolled her in Medicaid thus allowing her insurance coverage for the first time. L.B. is a classic example of so many West Virginian women who have been unable to access preventive health care and who frequently dismiss their symptoms as “stress related”.
Twenty-six year old man receives much needed dental treatment, lands a job, and quits smoking.
T.S., a 26 year-old male, was referred to WV Health Right’s dental clinic by Beckley Health Right. He had multiple abscessed teeth and caries. On his first visit, he was given antibiotics for the abscesses and scheduled for a dental screening. During multiple follow-up visits, T.S. has had six extractions, nine fillings, and cleanings. While undergoing dental treatment for six to nine months, he finished phlebotomy school. He was anxious to get his dental work done not only to address the treatment of the abscesses but also to ensure his oral health did not pose a drawback as he was seeking employment. T.S. has, indeed, obtained a fulltime job and has also quit smoking as a result of his free dental clinic treatments.