Homeless Yet Hopeful: Cone Health Offers Helping Hand
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bwana Lloyd lost her job as a hairdresser, ended her engagement and found herself without a place to call home. A borderline diabetic with mental health issues, Bwana is grateful for the community support she has received, especially from Cone Health.
“When you don’t have health insurance, you don’t go to the doctor. You go to the emergency room when [your health] is in its worst stage,” shares Bwana. “I wanted to make sure I had routine care and follow ups, but cost of care is pricey for someone in my situation. Without help, you can’t get care you can’t afford.”
Thanks to the Cone Health-managed Rockingham County Care Connect program, the Annie Penn Foundation, the Free Clinic of Rockingham County and others, Bwana has been able to access the free preventative, routine and ongoing care she needs to stay healthy. In the last several months, she has received a mammogram scholarship from the Annie Penn Foundation, taken her flu shot, consulted with social worker interns and nurses, obtained assistance for prescription medications and arranged vision and foot exams as part of ongoing diabetes-related care. Thanks to Home of Refuge Outreach Inc. in Rockingham County, she has a safe place to live and is proactively working to get back on her feet.
“Bwana has really been willing to do her part to seek out the care she needs. She makes the effort to make appointments and follow up,” says Patricia Gilley, RN, a Cone Health nurse and case manager who works with Rockingham County Care Connect. “As Bwana knows, getting help is a 2-way street that takes effort.”
“You cannot take the help you receive for granted. Having a doctor to go to and knowing the bills are paid…is a big relief,” adds Bwana, who has navigated a maze of bus routes to get to appointments. “Being in this situation makes you see what you are made of. You get what you give. There is only so much other people can do for you. You have to show up and do your part.”
“We offer a holistic approach to care,” shares Patricia. “We understand it takes a village to reassure, guide and help people like Bwana. We do whatever it takes to do our part.”
Through the Rockingham County Care Connect program in collaboration with other resources, Bwana and others who cannot afford insurance can access primary care, medications, mental health support and more. During the pandemic, the program has begun mobile food markets and meal programs to address growing food insecurity issues.
“I appreciate being able to go to reputable doctors and offices. They make me feel as comfortable as possible, explain what’s going on and take me step-by-step through results,” says Bwana. “I want to inspire people to get the resources they need. I also want them to understand you have to make choices, meet deadlines and do the footwork.”
“It’s truly gratifying to work with people like Bwana who appreciate what we do and who are committed to their health and well-being,” concludes Patricia. “Together with our county partners, our Rockingham Care Connect Program provides a network of care that helps connect uninsured patients to appropriate care while reducing their reliance on the emergency room.”