From Uninsured to Finding Hope
Until she became an Esperanza Health Center patient, Annette had always avoided going to doctors unless she absolutely had to. Now, she looks forward to her visits with her doctor. “The main thing that I love about Esperanza is that the health care here is compassionate,” said Annette. “I’d never experienced that before!”
Annette’s path to becoming an Esperanza patient started in 2013, when her husband was laid off from his job of many years. Unfortunately, he was beginning to lose his eyesight and could not find work. Then, he and Annette became uninsured when his COBRA insurance coverage ran out after six months’ time. A friend suggested to Annette that she apply for Medicaid, and she was accepted—however, she wasn’t sure where to go to find a doctor. She visited the City of Philadelphia’s website and found Esperanza on a list of free and low-cost clinics in the city. Said Annette: “I knew that Esperanza meant ‘hope’ in Spanish….I started coming here, and it’s really been a tremendous help for me personally, because I’ve always had a fear of doctors.”
In fact, Annette credits her doctor, Esperanza family medicine physician Charlene Chen, MD, with saving her life: “I was starting to have all of these weird symptoms related to my sleep. I was just brushing them off as part of getting older. I’d never thought about sleep apnea, but Dr. Chen thought of it and sent me for a sleep study.” The study confirmed that Annette was suffering from a severe case of sleep apnea. Since she began treatment for her sleep apnea, Annette’s sleep and overall health have improved significantly, and she continues to receive coordinated care from Dr. Chen and the Esperanza team.
Now, all of Annette’s family, including her husband and three adult children, are Esperanza patients. “I feel like I can trust the doctors here,” said Annette. “I used to question the medical care I’d received before, but here I don’t feel that way. And, the fact that doctors will pray with you if you want—I really love that!”
Extending Dental Hygiene Care at EHC
From its start as a pilot project in early 2017, Esperanza’s dental preventive clinic at our Hunting Park site has been a real success nearly one year later. Every Tuesday, Monika Perez, dental hygienist and Calvin Hoops, dental practice administrator (photo, L), travel to Hunting Park from the main dental clinic at our Kensington & Allegheny site to set up for a day of dental hygiene visits. Using portable dental equipment, Monika is able to provide quality dental hygiene services in a medical exam room and expand our dental cleaning services beyond the walls of our primary dental clinic.
Recently, a father and his teenage son, who does not have dental insurance coverage, came directly from a pediatric medical visit to see Monika for a routine cleaning. Said the boy’s father: “It’s great having a dental clinic set up at Hunting Park where we already receive care.” As Calvin explained, “We have two primary goals: 1) to provide a more convenient appointment location for existing patients to get their dental check ups, and 2) to integrate medical and dental care, by having patients see both their primary care clinician and the hygienist on the same day.”