Advocating for Eva

by Jessica Gonzalez, EHC Social Services Manager
(photo, below L)

Esperanza patient “Eva” * was not generally eligible for insurance, and at a fairly young age learned she had a large, aggressive tumor. Because in such an emergency situation she would be eligible for coverage, I assisted Eva to apply for Emergency Medicaid. Eva and I were told the process would take 30 days. Until then, Esperanza was willing to assist with her specialists’ medical costs using our Patient Diaconal Fund. 

More than thirty days elapsed and Eva came into Esperanza to tell me that she had not heard back from the County Assistance Office (CAO) regarding her application. I followed up with that office, finding it strange that her case was not open when she had such a serious condition. The liaison at the CAO said that applications were handled as they come in. I persevered, reminding him that by procedure, the decision needs to be made within 30 days. After that time a written notice to the applicant is required, informing her of the decision. I was a bit insistent as by this time Eva had learned that her condition required important and expensive treatment.

I knew right away this was in some ways unjust and Eva should not have to wait any longer. I spoke and wrote to managers and directors in the line of responsibility for this decision. Eva’s medical condition was not waiting, nor was her need for treatment. Potential costs were too high for her to cover; she had a family to support, and a low-paying job.

By the grace of God, administrative and clinical staff at Esperanza agreed that Diaconal funds would cover costs in the interim, hoping and praying that Eva would soon be approved for Medicaid. After more follow up, Eva was approved a full seven weeks after the application, and retroactive to the date of the application!

This case encouraged me to be more of a voice, and advocate, for those who feel they cannot speak up or who are put to the side. Maybe it is difficult for them to stand up for themselves due to a language barrier, or their perceived status. As a Social Services Manager at Esperanza, if I know in my heart that something is unjust, it is important to continue to advocate. In the end, God will always be glorified.
*  Name has been changed to protect patient’s identity.

Swinging Into Spring with New Wellness Initiatives

With generous funding from the Clemens Family Corporation, the Aetna Foundation and other supporters, construction was recently completed on our new urban teaching garden in back of our Hunting Park site. Following on the success of our container garden in 2015, children and youth will plant, tend and harvest tomatoes, kale, peppers, basil and other vegetables. The project will be led by Roanna Keener, MS, RDN, LDN, Registered Dietitian/Diabetes Educator, and other staff. Stay tuned as our garden grows this spring and summer!

FamilyFit is a new five-week family program (4/18 – 5/26) also funded by the Aetna Foundation. Six families and 23 individuals in total are participating in our first class, including children as young as 4 months and up to 15 years of age. Programs on Mondays include FamilyFit exercise classes (Zumba, Yoga) and nutrition classes including gardening, and Thursdays include behavioral health discussions on topics such as emotions, self-esteem and bullying. Says Debra Ortiz-Vasquez, Esperanza’s Assistant Director of Community Health and Wellness, “It’s been a safe place for families to come together and explore healthy living together!”   

Join the Esperanza Team!

We’re growing and we’re hiring, with a number of current open positions including: 

  • Assistant Clinical Supervisor/Medical Assistant
  • Behavioral Health Consultant – LSW/LCSW/Psy.D
  • Clerical Assistant
  • Custodial Specialist
  • Dispensary Coordinator
  • Group Fitness Instructor
  • Human Resources Director
  • Medical Assistant
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Primary Care Physician
  • Wellness Coordinator

To learn more about each of these openings and to apply, please visit our website at: 

Your Gift Makes a Difference!

Your gift to Esperanza will enable us to provide quality care and many other services to those in our medically-underserved North Philadelphia community who need them most. You can designate your gift for our Patient Diaconal Fund, to help support specialty medical costs for patients just like Eva – or, you can support our General Fund, Reach Out and Read Fund, or Pastor William Reyes Fund to assist our uninsured patients with Hepatitis C disease.

Thanks also for your continued prayers for Esperanza as we seek to serve those in need and to bring about health, wholeness and well-being in North Philadelphia! 

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