Stories From the Clinic

July 2, 2015

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
― Virginia Woolf


All of the patients’ stories at Health Partners Free Clinic are special, but there are those rare cases that do tend to stand out, and truly epitomize our mission.  These stories are told every day here at the Clinic and, with pleasure we share two of those stories below:


Early in 2015, a 59-year-old male patient, Glenn, returned to the clinic after nearly three years of not receiving medical care. Having been a hardworking, independent man for his entire life, he found it hard to come into the clinic when he felt there were many who were more-so in need of the help.  A former pack-a-day smoker, Glenn’s return was spurred by his increased shortness of breath, a condition he admittedly had been self-medicating for years with a friend’s extra inhalers.  Having worked manual labor his whole life, he noticed how severe his condition was becoming when he could barely pass the breathing portion of his work physical.   With his back-stock of inhalers dwindling, the patient, still uninsured, came into Health Partners for care.

After a visit and a thorough review of the patient’s history, it was agreed that Glenn was in need of medications to help control his newly diagnosed, severe COPD.   He was also ordered a low dose CT scan to truly get a good picture of his condition.  Unable to afford the not-in-stock, incredibly expensive medications, Glenn had to apply for the pharmaceutical company’s Patient Assistance Program.  Looking for more assistance, the patient was told by the clinic’s Insurance Navigator his options of applying for Ohio Medicaid, or purchasing an individual insurance plan through the Federal Marketplace.  With income above the 138% FPL that the state uses as a guideline for their Medicaid program, the patient stated he just could not afford health insurance.  He was already paying bills for family members and helping them keep their heads above water, and spoke very sincerely about not want to do anything that would in some way inhibit his ability to do so, or interfere with the benefits they were receiving.  Not shortly after this visit, a Notice of Denial from the Patient Assistance Program came in, as well as the reading of his CT scan results.  The scan had found multiple, pulmonary nodules.  At this point, not only could the patient not afford to purchase the medications that enabled him to function throughout the day, but there were now vital concerns and unanswered questions. Immediately after meeting with the doctor who had explained to him the severity of his condition and his options for future care, he was informed that there were no pulmonologist or oncologist in the area who would accept a patient without insurance.

Shocked and completely terrified by the news, Glenn met with the Insurance Navigator again.  Knocked to his knees, shaken and completely raw, he let down his guard, no longer able to deny his condition. He spoke about his family, about his life, about how hard he had worked to still be in a position without benefits. While helping him work through his thoughts, the Navigator filled out an application for Glenn on the Federal Marketplace. His results turned up that he could purchase an individual insurance plan with a low deductible, copays and a monthly premium within his budget. And he did so. Glenn left the clinic that night with the fear of his condition, but now with the hope and pride that he could do something about it.


It has been said that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and in the case of 14-year-old Ricky, the notion could not be any more true. 

COPYRIGHT Photo by Jim Witmer

Born in Mexico, Ricky has been living in Miami County with his mother and step-father, and five younger step- siblings.  Ricky’s early school physicals show effects of a limited household income, with Ricky having to sleep on the couch as a child, and receiving less than adequate nutrition. Ricky’s family has often expected their eldest child to assume a leadership role and maintain a sense of independence.  At only fourteen, Ricky plays the mediator between his Spanish-only speaking mother and her philosophies of life, and his English-only speaking siblings and their new world realities.

The rest of the family is able to receive public assistance for their healthcare, leaving Ricky as the sole uninsured member of the household, left to fend for himself.  Fortunately, the local school system has been very supportive, and when they noticed Ricky was starting to have behavioral and academic problems at school, they hooked Ricky up with the school nurse and interpreter, who were able to assess some of his needs.  They decided that a doctor should see Ricky to better evaluate his state, and an appointment was made at Miami County Public Health. There, the physician worked with the school nurse and the school interpreter to explain to Ricky’s mother what was going on with her son.  It was determined that Ricky genuinely suffered from ADHD, and medication as well as counseling was prescribed. Often overwhelmed and confused with the information, Ricky’s mother tended to lash out more than console. It was at this point that the interpreter started to see there were some natural gaps in Ricky’s life, and started to assume a greater responsibility for his care.  She asked for parental authorization so she could stay on top of his schedule and take him to appointments, ensuring that his medications were being taken as prescribed.  Shortly after he began his medications, Ricky’s behavior changed.  He was productive and respectful at school, and his grades were positively affected.

Things seemed to be going well for Ricky, until the Well Child Program at Miami County Public Health lost its funding. This left Ricky without a provider, and a prescription that was far too expensive for his family to afford.  At this point, Ricky was directed to Health Partners.  Since then, the Medical Director at Health Partners has taken over Ricky’s case. Understanding the situation Ricky was in, with both his family situation and academically speaking, the Medical Director saw need to work with Ricky and his medications, medications that usually are not provided at Health Partners.   Because of Health Partners’ care and concern for every aspect of our patient’s lives, Ricky finished the school year in a much better place than he started, and is working with his resources on achieving a brighter future than he used to see.