'They make you feel like a person, not a number'

May 7th, 2018

Many AccessHealth Spartanburg clients say the personal relationships and connections they make with AHS staff members are as important as the medical care and other services AHS connects them to.

Laura Wright is one. Before learning about AccessHealth Spartanburg, Wright had been dealt a series of life-changing blows:

  • She had endured a personal tragedy, followed six months later by a divorce;
  • She had become disabled and was unable to work, yet she had not been approved to receive disability payments;
  • And not surprisingly, she had begun suffering from severe depression, which compounded her health problems, including hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

"I was at a very low point emotionally and mentally when I started with AccessHealth,” Wright remembers. “I was falling apart and had been going to county mental health for counseling, where I got started on antidepressants. I was just very unstable.”

Though it has been a long road to regaining stability, Wright said from her very first meeting with the team at AccessHealth Spartanburg, she began to feel better and regain hope.

On my very first visit at Access Health during my session with the nurse, as I told her my story, she encouraged me,” Wright said. “I felt comfortable and safe, and like she was talking to me like I was a friend. I was able to open up and tell her everything. I cried and she cried. The sense of understanding and empathy really helped me a lot. I had felt so isolated but she didn’t pity me – she just empathized and cared. That translated into confidence for me that they could help me.”

AHS helped Wright with its comprehensive approach to case management. Through AHS, Wright found a primary medical home, and she has developed a trusting long-term relationship with her primary doctor. In addition, Wright was connected to a hypertension program, where she learned how to take her blood pressure along with nutrition and exercise education. She was able to get the medications she needed to control her hypertension and manage her diabetes through prescription assistance, and she was connected to a diabetes education workshop at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.

"It was a few days a week and a few hours each time, and we were given a lot of handouts that we were able to take home and read,” Wright said. “The friendly and helpful teacher was a registered nurse who went over everything, like how your pancreas works and how the insulin helps. ... The education I received made me more aware of how I eat, which is a biggie, because that impacts my blood pressure and blood sugar. I now know why I feel the way I do and what to do about it.”

Wright eventually received a referral for knee surgery, and AccessHealth Spartanburg helped her successfully navigate the Medicaid and Medicare enrollment process.

Yet even when Wright recounts about all the help she received, she makes a point to come back to how she was treated with empathy and kindness by the team at AccessHealth Spartanburg. That rapport and respect was crucial, she said, to keeping her motivated and improving her overall wellbeing.

"I felt raggedy on the inside, but no one at AccessHealth ever looked at me condescendingly,” she said. “When you’re really depressed, you tend not to follow through and give up. I had not gotten my disability at that point and wasn’t able to work, so they really helped with encouraging me to follow through.

"I feel better emotionally and have peace of mind because I know I can go back and they will be there for me if my situation changes. They sat with me as long as I needed to talk and that makes a big difference. I never felt like a burden. They were very nice people who didn’t have a condescending attitude and showed empathy, which I needed so much. AccessHealth makes you feel like a person and not just a number.”

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