Keke Kilpatrick is known around Regional One Health for her cheerful smile – so when a colleague noticed Keke was visibly upset, she asked to help.
Keke was struggling because her son, Deonta, was hospitalized for serious seizures. He did not have insurance and had stopped taking his medication.
Our ONE Health team stepped in, embracing the family with the support they needed. Now, Deonta is healthy, living in Washington D.C. and working in the IT field.
We know our family by the hands that reach out to help and the arms that lift us up. When Keke Kilpatrick talks about her experience with Regional One Health’s ONE Health complex care program, it’s all about family – both the one she lives with and the one she works with.
Keke has been a member of the Regional One Health environmental services team for five years. She’s known for her hard work, her friendly demeanor and her smile that lights up the room.
During one of her shifts, a colleague stopped to say hello, only to be surprised not to see Keke’s bright smile. “She said she’s used to seeing me happy and cheerful, but this time there were tears in my eyes,” Keke said. “She asked me what was wrong, and I told her about my son.”
It was 2018, and Keke’s son Deonta had been doing great, graduating from college and joining the military. But he started experiencing seizures and had just had an episode so severe he ended up in Regional One Health’s emergency room.
The morning that Keke shared Deonta’s story, she had just visited him before her shift.
“When I came early that morning he was in worse shape than he was before – he had had another seizure, and the nurses told me he wasn’t responding,” Keke said.
“I was really scared. I didn’t want to lose my son.”
Keke had also learned Deonta had stopped taking his anti-seizure medicine. He was uninsured, and he couldn’t afford it.
As Keke spoke, she couldn’t hold back her tears – and her colleague didn’t hesitate to extend a helping hand. “She told me, ‘Wait a minute, stop, I told you, we’re family,’” Keke recalls.
Within moments, Keke found herself in the office of Senior Vice President and Chief Integration Officer Susan Cooper, who spearheads ONE Health.
ONE Health was designed to help patients with serious medical problems that are compounded by lack of insurance and other unmet social needs. With the support of generous donations to the Regional One Health Foundation, Cooper has compiled a team of nurses and social workers who help patients get the medical care they need and overcome homelessness, hunger and more.
After Keke shared her story, ONE Health social worker Coralotta Cromer visited Deonta in his hospital room.
She asked a lot of questions and identified lack of insurance as Deonta’s biggest issue – then immediately explained it wasn’t insurmountable. She told him she could help him obtain Social Security benefits, set up medical appointments, stay on his medication, access healthy food, etc.
“They told me, ‘You go home and don’t worry about it,’” Keke said. “The next day, they got to work.”
ONE Health helped Deonta get insurance so he could stay on his anti-seizure medication. Today, he has a career in IT and lives in Washington D.C.
With ONE Health’s intervention, Deonta was able to go home within a few days, armed with the medication he needed to stay seizure-free.
The ONE Health team also took care of Keke. “They were concerned about me, too, not just my son,” she said. “They showed me love through this whole situation.”
Today, Deonta is once again doing great. His health has stabilized, he has insurance and he’s living in Washington D.C., where he works in IT. He still makes it home regularly, both to see his mom and to continue his medical care – he opted to stay with Regional One Health for his ongoing treatment.
As for Keke, that smile that lights up the room has returned to her face.
She says she’s grateful for both of her families – her healthy son and her friends at Regional One Health who were there to extend a hand to help get him there.
“God is so good. I thank God for the ONE Health program,” Keke said. “They make it personal. They go over and beyond their job. You don’t get too many people doing that.”
“They just took me, grabbed a hold of me, gave me love and made me feel like family.”
To help ONE Health support happy endings for more families like Keke and Deonta, visit regionalonehealthfoundation.org.