Regional One Health’s ONE Health Complex Care program helps patients meet their medical and social needs so they can build healthier lives.
For Gail Shorty, the program helped her manage chronic high blood pressure and diabetes and access the mental health support she needed as she struggled with depression.
Gail says ONE Health was a blessing, and with her team’s support, she’s rediscovered her sense of purpose and joy.
These days, Gail Shorty loves nothing more than turning on some gospel music and letting the powerful vocals and inspiring lyrics fill her mind and heart.
But it wasn’t so long ago that Gail was struggling to find meaning in life.
Gail lives with depression, and stresses like the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of gun violence in her neighborhood and physical health challenges were becoming overwhelming. When she started experiencing dizziness and weakness on one side of her body, she knew in her heart her health situation had reached a crisis point.
It was scary, but Gail says it ultimately led her to a team of health care professionals who would change her life for the better.
After seeking emergency care at Regional One Health, Gail learned she had suffered two TIAs, or transient ischemic attacks, which are similar to strokes. During her recovery, she was connected to the ONE Health complex care program, which helps vulnerable patients access health care and insurance as well as services like food, housing and job placement.
“Coming here was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Gail said. “This is the only hospital I know of that has a program like this. When I came to Regional One Health, they said, ‘We’ll take care of you.’ And that’s exactly what they did.”
ONE Health social worker Porshure Richardson reached out to Gail because Gail did not have health insurance, making it difficult for her to access the regular care she needs for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, Gail’s TIAs were likely related to the fact that she couldn’t afford the medication she needs to manage her hypertension.
From their first meeting, Porshure knew she was working with a patient who was motivated to get better. “Gail was clearly driven, but without insurance it was hard to see a doctor and get medication,” Porshure said. “Once we could help her with that, she did everything we asked of her. She follows her doctor’s directions, and she’s accountable about doing her part.”
With regular checkups and medication, Gail’s health improved. But Porshure didn’t stop there.
During the pandemic, Gail struggled to access healthy food. Porshure called upon ONE Health’s partnership with the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association to make sure Gail had medically tailored meals brought to her house through MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program.
Gail said it not only keeps her nutrition on track, regular visits from delivery drivers eased the isolation of pandemic life. “It’s a big help, because I don’t have to jump up and find something to eat,” Gail said. “It helps me make sure I eat three meals a day, and the right type of food.”
The support has been exactly what Gail needed to start feeling hopeful again.
Gail has battled depression and anxiety for years, and the stress she had been under made it hard to cope. Porshure helped her access mental health treatment and also works with Gail’s doctors to make sure she receives the support she needs to take care of her physical health.
“When she’s having trouble, she lets me know so I can help her,” Porshure said. “If she has a bad day, I have a nurse follow up with her. If she doesn’t hear back about her lab work, I make sure someone lets her know what’s going on.”
It has gotten Gail to a point where she’s back to enjoying the things she loves.
She likes to spend quiet days listening to her beloved gospel music and not-so-quiet days seeing her grandkids, who range in age from 1 to 10. “They motivate me to stay healthy,” Gail said. “At one point I thought I had no purpose being here. Now, when I look into my grandbabies’ eyes, I can say, ‘You are my purpose.’”
With her purpose and faith restored, Gail is looking to the future. She’s working with Porshure to apply for Social Security Disability insurance, which will help her continue to meet her health care needs, and she’s committed to continuing to eat well and follow her doctors’ advice.
Porshure has no doubt she’ll achieve her goals.
“Working in Complex Care, we learn that you can’t want something more than your patient wants it, and you have to be respectful and let them navigate their goals,” she said. “With Gail, that’s never a problem – she’s honest about what she’s feeling and what she needs, and she’s driven to do her part to take control of her life.”