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Meet Our Patients

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.

A middle-aged female presented to Good Samaritan Clinic (GS) in Parkersburg with complaints of a very sore area on her left shoulder.  The “sore” had been there for about five years and had started out as what she thought was just a pimple.  Since they believed it to be a pimple, she had her husband “pop it”. The sore did not resolve and only grew larger.  She and her husband continued to try to treat the area on their own up until the point  it  became so large and painful she could no longer tolerate it. The family was without any form of insurance or government assistance and had a very low income. She was not aware of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and her likely qualification for assistance.  She had heard about the Good Samaritan Clinic and finally reached out for medical care.  She was seen by an Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) who determined she needed further evaluation by a specialist.  She was brought back to see one of GS's volunteer physicians who then explained to her it was suspicious for skin cancer. Within a week, she was seen by a surgeon and scheduled for excision of the lesion.  Without Good Samaritan Clinic, she would have gone without seeking treatment and the cancer would have continued to progress.
Sandy's Story
Sandy is a 48 year-old female who has been a patient at Health Access (HA) in Clarksburg since January 2011. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law and has a debilitating case of agoraphobia which makes it difficult for her to even leave her house to go to her doctor appointments, let alone work. In addition to severe anxiety, she has a myriad of other health problems including hypertension, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, tobacco use disorder, subclavian steal syndrome, and GERD.
These problems continued to escalate until July 2012 when she began having increased episodes of syncope and visual disturbances. Upon recommendation of her provider at HA, Sandy was evaluated by the specialists at the WVU Eye Institute who immediately recognized that her visual disturbances were the result of a cardiovascular accident and rushed her to the emergency department at West Virginia University Hospital where it was later confirmed she had, in fact, suffered a stroke. Six months later, Sandy would once again be rushed into surgery to prevent yet another stroke as she suffered a clot, this time in her left subclavian artery.
Since her last stroke, Sandy has made quite a bit of progress. She has continued to follow closely with the doctors at HA, including their Nurse Practitioner (NP), Rose Clark. She has quit smoking, her blood pressure is now under control, and she has even committed this year to going off of her anxiety medications with the help of HA's resident psychologist, Amy Strange. Things were really looking good for Sandy and the staff at HA couldn't be happier. In January of this year, Sandy informed the folks at HA she had received a medical card through the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid and would no longer need HA's services. After a tearful goodbye, HA provided her a list of area doctors and her medical records and wished her the very best expecting never to see her again.
Flash forward to June. Sandy calls HA in an inconsolable panic. For the past six months, she has tried every doctor in the phone book desperately trying to find care. She has filled out application after application listing all of her ailments and medications hoping that someone - anyone - would be willing to take her as their patient and manage her care. Every time the answer was the same: WAIT! As the days ticked by so did her meds until, eventually, there were no more. As her blood pressure went higher and higher, so did the likelihood she would suffer yet another cardiovascular accident.
True to Health Access' mission [and that of all of WV's Free Clinics], that everyone should have access to healthcare regardless of insurance or their ability to pay, HA told Sandy to get to the clinic ASAP! Upon her arrival, her anxiety was extreme and her blood pressure was through the roof. One of HA's volunteer docs who travels from Buckhannon once a week to see free clinic patients, assumed care for Sandy and continues to manage her life-threatening chronic conditions today. Thankfully in the six months that Sandy was without care, she suffered no cardiovascular accidents and suffered no further damage to her heart. Sandy was lucky, but how many out there might not be as fortunate?
Man credits Milan Puskar Health Right for saving eye sight and, possibly, his life.
A gentleman come in to Milan Puskar Health Right (MPHR) in Morgantown for a vision screening. He thought he needed glasses. He was seen by a volunteer ophthalmologist at MPHR in their vision room and the doctor thought he saw something unusual in the back of the gentleman's eye. He was sent by referral up to the WV Eye Institute and it turned out that the patient had a brain tumor. He has since had surgery to remove the tumor and is doing well. He credits Milan Puskar Health Right for saving is eye sight and possibly his life.
Woman receives much needed dental treatment and dances with joy.

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.