Gregory Bradford came to Regional One Health’s emergency department after he experienced serious complications due to unmanaged diabetes. At the time, Gregory was homeless and had no access to regular care.
He was connected with the ONE Health complex care initiative, which helped him access regular health care and medication, housing and healthy food.
Today, Gregory’s health has improved, and it’s given him the opportunity to reconnect with family and rediscover his spiritual side.
Eating right. Taking prescribed medication. Avoiding alcohol.
They all come naturally to Gregory Bradford these days, but that wasn’t always the case. “I was homeless at one point, out on the street. I’d eat what I could when I could,” Gregory said. “I had no way to check my sugar, no insulin, no nothing.”
It’s a dangerous situation for a diabetic. Combined with poor access to medical care, it’s a recipe for disaster.
At one point, Gregory started making regular emergency visits to Regional One Health. “I used to get very weak, and I was in a lot of pain,” he said. “I needed a lot of medication, but the only time I could get it is when I went to the emergency room.”
It was after one of those Emergency Department visits that Gregory met Porshure Richardson, a medical social worker with Regional One Health’s ONE Health Complex Care program.
ONE Health supports patients with complex medical and social needs who often have frequent ED visits and inpatient stays due to fragmented health care brought on by lack of insurance, homelessness, transportation issues, mental illness and other barriers.
Gregory had been admitted to the hospital and was being discharged. His health was stable, but Porshure quickly realized that wouldn’t continue if he left without support.
“There is a gap between someone being healthy enough to be discharged and being able to stay stable. In Gregory’s case, he still wasn’t able to pay for his medications. He still needed help,” she said.
Porshure told Gregory Regional One Health could provide the care and medicines he needed. Meanwhile, she looked to ONE Health’s community partners to help Gregory with other needs.
For one thing, she knew if he didn’t have a stable place to live, it would be hard to communicate with him about his care. She helped work out an agreement with the manager of a halfway house for him to stay longer-term in exchange for helping around the house.
“They took me in,” Gregory said. “I watch the house, and I do some cooking.”
When he isn’t making his specialties like Salisbury steak and baked chicken, Gregory benefits from another ONE Health partnership with the Metropolitan Inner-Faith Association, which delivers medically tailored meals to his home. It’s a blessing that goes beyond having healthy food to eat – Gregory discovered he knows one of the delivery drivers, and now they catch up every time she drops off a meal: “It’s good to have a friend and see a familiar face,” he said.
As Gregory’s diabetes improved, he became more proactive about his health.
“I stopped buying sweets. If I don’t have them, I won’t eat them,” he said. “I lost over 80 pounds just by stopping with the sugary drinks, the chips, the M&Ms.”
He has more energy, and he doesn’t have to check his blood sugar constantly. He was even able to stop taking the insulin that left him hungry and shaky.
As his physical health improved, Gregory began focusing on healing in other parts of his life. “I had substance addiction issues, and I burned some bridges with my family,” he said. “They’re willing to help me now that they see I’m trying to help himself.”
He is reconnecting with his children and grandchildren, including a daughter who recently graduated law school and is studying to take the Bar exam. “She told me, ‘I don’t hold grudges. When the pandemic is over I’ll come get you so we can go out to eat.’”
He’s also rediscovering his spiritual side by going to church, reading the Bible and praying. He’s sober and works hard to stay that way.
“I’m slowing down and seeing what life is really about,” Gregory said. “I’m grateful to Porshure. She saw I was trying to do the right thing, and she was there for me. When I saw it was working, I trusted her. I know people have been through so much that it’s hard to trust, but I advise anyone in this situation to try. They will help you.”
ONE Health helped Gregory so much that he is officially a graduate of the program, which means he has insurance, a stable home and healthy food. He and Porshure stay in touch weekly, but Gregory is in charge of his own health.
For Porshure, it’s an inspiring outcome.
“I think he saw that he just had to do his part by being consistent, coming to appointments, and being responsible,” she said. “At first, he was just trying to survive day-to-day. Now, he’s able to focus on taking care of his health. This is what success looks like, and I’m so proud of him.”