Regional One Health’s ONE Health complex care program helps patients meet their medical needs and addresses social determinants of health such as housing, food and transportation.

For Bud Tunstall, it was a chance to overcome several serious health conditions and get back to enjoying life and feeling hopeful about the future.

Bud’s case manager Maggie Gafa, RN says that is the goal for every patient they see: “To see him regain an excitement for life – that’s our reward,” she said. “That’s why we do this.”

As a case manager with the ONE Health complex care program, Maggie Gafa, RN takes health care beyond the doctor’s office.

If a patient has nowhere to go after leaving the hospital, she finds them a safe place to live. If they have no way to get to doctor appointments, she arranges a ride share. If they’re hungry or need clothes, Maggie is there with a box of food and clean shirts.

Maggie gave Bud Tunstall all of those things and more: the chance to feel excited and hopeful about life.

“The good Lord has blessed me. I can’t ask to be more blessed than I am by this hospital,” Bud said. “I can talk to Miss Maggie about anything. I told her I needed shirts, and she went out and got me brand new shirts. That’s Miss Maggie for you. She’s always here for me.”

Born and raised in Memphis, Bud was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child. Seizures made it hard to work, but life was looking up in the early 1990s when he moved to Vancouver with friends, staying in an apartment across the street from the United Nations.

“I loved it. It’s gorgeous. It’s cold – cold and clean. So clean you could eat off the streets,” Bud said. “I came back in 1995 because my mom was dying. I never would have come back, but my mom…she was my whole heart.”

In Memphis, Bud struggled with homelessness and poor health, including epilepsy, a cancer diagnosis, and hypertension. He was living at a shelter in June 2022 when a health crisis brought him to Regional One Health’s emergency department.

ONE Health case manager Maggie Gafa has helped Bud with housing, transportation, medical appointments and prescriptions. “He’s determined to take care of himself, and that’s extremely encouraging,” she said.

Maggie visited him to talk about ONE Health, which supports patients who have frequent ED visits and hospital stays due to lack of insurance. She explained the program could help him access regular medical care and social needs like housing, transportation and food.

Initially, communication and follow-up were spotty, and severe nausea and dehydration brought Bud back to the hospital in late 2022. “He ended up having a long hospital stay. I visited him at least once a week, but he still didn’t communicate much,” Maggie said.

“When he left, I gave him my contact information and asked him to follow up with me. I don’t know what happened between that hospital stay and him going back to the shelter, but he started checking in. He started going to appointments and getting involved in his care.”

It turns out Maggie had helped Bud, 60, rediscover a sense of hope. “I realized the Lord has kept me here for a reason,” Bud said.

It’s an example of how ONE Health’s individual approach. “We meet patients where they are,” Maggie said. “It’s important to show them that someone cares, but we have to wait until they’re ready. After Bud’s hospital stay, he was ready.”

Maggie connected Bud with appointments in internal medicine, oncology, neurology, cardiology, etc. and made sure he had his prescriptions. They called the appointment and pharmacy refill lines together so she could coach him to do it on his own.

Since then, Bud hasn’t missed an appointment and has stayed current on his medications. Even after a stroke and a new diabetes diagnosis, he continued to thrive.

Bud sees a variety of specialists at Regional One Health to manage hypertension, epilepsy and other conditions. “I can’t ask to be more blessed than I am by this hospital,” he said.

“Even with more specialists and medications to keep up with, he wasn’t overwhelmed, and he’s determined to take care of himself. That’s extremely encouraging,” Maggie said.

With his health under control, Bud and Maggie turned their attention to other needs. She helped him apply for disability and food benefits, and best of all, he moved into his own apartment.

“When I was younger, being around other people and all the noise didn’t bother me, but now that I’m older I like the quiet of my own space,” Bud said.

Within weeks of moving in, he’d done a thorough cleaning, installed new blinds and painted his kitchen. He spends his days talking to his siblings, walking to the park to watch the trains go by, or listening to the radio, mostly blues and jazz: “That’s part of being from Memphis,” he smiled.

He’s grateful to Regional One Health: “As long as I keep up with appointments, I can stay in my house and keep feeling better. I can’t ask for more. I love this hospital, and I love Miss Maggie.”

For the ONE Health team, that’s the goal for every patient: “To see him regain an excitement for life – that’s our reward,” Maggie said. “That’s why we do this.”

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