January 23rd, 2019
Being released from prison provides an opportunity to restart life. But that opportunity comes with a number of challenges, often including lack of access to health care — even access to necessary life-saving prescription medication.
Such was the case for Kelby Orr, who was trying to put the pieces together after getting out of prison in 2016. A Type I diabetic, he was staying at a homeless shelter in Spartanburg and was unsure how he was going to get the prescription medication he needed when AccessHealth Spartanburg showed up on one of its regular visits to the shelter.
“AccessHealth would come in often and sign up anyone that was interested in medical help,” Orr remembers. “I had just got out of prison and needed some way to get my medicine. AccessHealth was there to help.”
One of AHS’s care navigators, Tracie Mason, helped Orr obtain the prescriptions through Welvista, as well as get the insulin meter he needed. Based in Columbia, S.C., Welvista is a 501(c)3 organization that helps uninsured and underserved South Carolinians gain access to essential health services, including prescription medications. AccessHealth Spartanburg and Welvista have worked together almost since AHS opened its doors in 2011 to help connect low-income, uninsured adults in Spartanburg County with prescription medication assistance. In fact, a member of Welvista’s team works in the AHS office in Spartanburg.
“Welvista is without a doubt one of our most critical partners,” AccessHealth Spartanburg Director Summer Tebalt said. “They make a huge difference in the lives of so many people, and we would not be as effective as we are without this partnership.”
Mason also helped set up an appointment for Orr with a local physician so he could get regular check-ups.
“She was interested in what I had to say and we had a good relationship,” Orr said about Mason. “I felt like I could reach out to her when I needed help, and I felt like she was a friend. They really helped me out the entire time I was there and never once let me go without what I needed. Whenever I needed urgent care, I could call Tracie and she could get it done quickly. She answered questions and she listened. I don’t have mental health problems, so I don’t have a counselor, but it was great to just have a friend. I wasn’t in Spartanburg willingly.”
When he became an AccessHealth Spartanburg client, Orr was broke and homeless. By the time he graduated from the program, he had a job, a car and insurance.
“Tracie was able to be there to see me grow. She was invested and empathetic with my struggles. AccessHealth is going to help you. They’re going to do the best they can for you, and it’s a real effort. I’m gonna be stuck with diabetes the rest of my life. AccessHealth has really saved me tremendously, and I don’t know what I would have done without their help.”