For Isaac Brooks, a lack of health insurance and general fear of hospitals kept him from seeking care until he experienced a true medical emergency.
At Regional One Health, he found not only doctors and nurses who put him at ease as they addressed his medical needs, but a complex care team that helped him access ongoing care.
Thanks to our ONE Health program, Isaac’s health has stabilized, allowing him to enjoy the simple things in life, like watching his younger cousins grow up.
Isaac Brooks does not like hospitals, so much so that it took a life-or-death situation to get him to visit the emergency room.
While he’d still prefer to avoid all things medical, he’s quick to share his gratitude for a unique group of providers at Regional One Health – the ONE Health complex care team, where nurses and social workers help patients meet medical and social needs.
“They have been really, really good to me. They made things happen for me that I didn’t think were even possible,” Isaac said. “It took a whole lot of my fear away about going to the doctor. I don’t have that fear anymore. If they call and say to come see my doctors, I’m on my way.”
It wasn’t always so easy. Isaac had been suffering from severe pain and weakness for a long time when a crisis led him to the Regional One Health Emergency Department. “I was afraid to come to the hospital, and I had no insurance, so I didn’t think I could go to the hospital,” he said. “I came because I didn’t have any choice. I felt like it was going to be life or death.”
He was right. Doctors diagnosed him with congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic gout, anemia and diabetes. “I was so full of fluids that I was swollen up like the Michelin Man,” he recalls. “I was terrified, because I knew something was wrong.”
Doctors ran tests and admitted Isaac to the hospital, all the while talking to him about what was happening and how they would help. His worry started to ease: “I felt like they genuinely wanted to help me, and that made me calm down,” he said. “They were wonderful to me.”
Still, when ONE Health social worker Coralotta Cromer first visited Isaac to tell him how she could help him continue to recover, she could tell right away he was skeptical.
“He didn’t believe me,” she recalls. “I gave him my phone number and told him to call me right then and there. When my phone rang, he started to believe I really was someone who would help. I just met him where he was as a person so I could start to build rapport and trust.”
Coralotta realized Isaac’s main challenge was a lack of health insurance, which is the reason he had qualified for ONE Health. He hadn’t seen a doctor in years and couldn’t afford prescriptions, causing his chronic illnesses to get out of control.
She connected him with a primary care provider and other specialists at Regional One Health, and made sure he had rides to his appointments and access to his prescriptions.
“Anything I needed, she fixed it for me,” he said. “Coralotta was checking on me, the nurses were checking on me, the doctors were checking on me. It made me feel like I was on the mend and that someone cared.”
These days, Isaac is feeling better than he has in years. He enjoys spending time with his twin cousins – 4-year-old boys who he says keep him young. “Anything they like to do, I like to do with them. I like to go to the park and just sit and watch them,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Nowadays, anything can bring me joy.”
He’s grateful for how far he’s come, even if it did take a dreaded hospital visit to get him there. “Even if I have to keep seeing doctors and stay on this medicine for the rest of my life, I’m still happy. I’ve learned that with health comes happiness,” he said. “Coming here was a godsend.”
In fact, Isaac is doing so well that he is now a ONE Health graduate, meaning he now has insurance and receives social security disability. He has also taken charge of organizing his own appointments, medications, etc.
His ONE Health team keeps in touch to make sure he doesn’t come across any new hurdles; as Coralotta noted, “We want it to be a smooth transition. We don’t just say, ‘Congratulations, and good luck.’ We make sure the patient continues to get the services they need to stay healthy.”
For Isaac, that’s exactly how it’s working out. He hasn’t visited the emergency room or been hospitalized in over a year, Coralotta said, which are key goals of the ONE Health program.
What’s more, Isaac has gone from health care skeptic to believer. “The relationship we developed is amazing, and he’s a great success story,” Coralotta said. “Now, he advocates for himself and for ONE Health. He tells other people that this program is real, and that we’re genuinely here to help.”