Regional One Health’s ONE Health complex care program helps patients improve their lives by supporting their medical needs as well as social needs like housing, transportation and vocational training.
For Shirley Ann Rudd, the program was a blessing when health problems kept her from working as a home health aide.
Now that Shirley’s health is stable, she’s taking part in a vocational rehab program and looking for ways to give back as a volunteer.
Shirley Ann Rudd is used to taking care of people.
She worked for years as a home health assistant, getting to know her patients so she could meet their medical needs and offer friendship and support.
But as Shirley’s own health declined, she found herself in the unfamiliar position of being the one seeking care. And that became increasingly difficult – both physically and emotionally – as her health problems caused her to stop working and lose her health insurance.
“It came out of nowhere. I started having difficulty breathing, so I went to the emergency room at Regional One Health,” Shirley said. “I had my kids here when it was still John Gaston Hospital, so I knew it was a good hospital. And by the grace of God, Regional One Health sent good people to help me.”
Shirley was connected with the ONE Health complex care team, which helps patients meet not only medical needs, but social needs like health insurance, housing and job placement. Case manager Ashley Eleby, RN met with Shirley to understand which needs mattered most to her.
For Shirley, the answer was simple: making sure she could regularly see doctors to manage her acute and chronic conditions.
Most pressingly, she required heart surgery to address the cardiac issues causing her shortness of breath. She also needed medication for asthma, diabetes and hypertension, but without insurance, it was impossible to stay on her prescriptions, causing her conditions to become poorly managed.
Ashley made an immediate impact. “The minute I met her, I could tell she was just as nice as can be – and she’s still that way. She treated me and talked to me respectfully,” Shirley said. “She’s wonderful. I wish there were more people like her.”
Ashley helped Shirley navigate her journey to better health – both the successes and setbacks.
While Shirley’s diabetes stabilized with proper treatment, she started dealing with related issues like diabetic neuropathy, a type of painful nerve damage in her hands.
The condition causes one of her joints to be permanently bent. It’s hard to work and do chores; when she attempts to cook, steam can cause a burning sensation so severe that she drops the pot.
Despite those hardships and the global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, by 2020 Shirley was able to take on a new home health patient. But after a serious car accident, she again found herself struggling.
Shirley lives with depression, and the fact that she could no longer work was devastating. “It took part of my life from me, because I love taking care of people and it gets me down when I can’t do the things I used to do,” she said. “When you’re taking care of someone and all of a sudden someone has to take care of you, it will make you think. It felt overwhelming.”
Once again, Ashley stepped in with exactly the help Shirley needed, connecting her with ONE Health’s mental health services partner, Alliance Healthcare Services. Now, Shirley meets regularly with a counselor to help her process everything she’s going through.
It has helped her get to a point where she’s able to start doing the things she enjoys. And for Shirley, that means making other people smile.
On a recent visit with Ashley, Shirley showed up with a handmade candy bouquet, labeling each treat with words like “You are Awesome” and “You are Unstoppable.”
“Miss Ashley has been a great joy and a great part of my life since I met her, and I wanted to bring her something in return. You never know what someone else is going through in life, and I just want to bring joy to people,” Shirley said.
“I want to treat people the way I want to be treated.”
Her next goal is to start volunteering at Regional One Health, and Ashley hopes to talk to the team at the hospital’s gift shop, where Shirley’s creativity and gift basket skills could be put to excellent use. Meanwhile, Ashley is also helping Shirley apply for disability coverage and get started in a vocational rehab program that can lead to job placement opportunities.
For Shirley, all of it is a blessing – and one she can’t wait to pay forward.
“They’ve helped me with whatever I need, and every day I get up and I’m grateful to God for waking me up and to Regional One Health for being there for me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being able to stand on my own two feet and take care of myself, and if I can find a way to make someone else smile along the way, that’s even better.”