A stable existence thanks to outreach services
“The medicine I got from the mobile unit really helped me out. I take heart medicine and the pills really take the pressure off, help me live healthily, and think clearer. Medicine is pretty important when you are in pain.” –Jimmy Pyle, mobile center patient
On the La Clinica Mobile Health Center, Jimmy Pyle found a team of allies to help him connect with a better life.
For years, Jimmy, 63, camped near the freeway. In the winter when it was cold and wet, he sometimes would head to the Gospel Mission in Medford or Grants Pass. As he got older, he struggled more with the weather and other realities of living on the streets.
“I was having trouble being attacked camping out, people robbing me and assault,” he said. “I was afraid they would really injure me.”
The Medford Gospel Mission provided a safe place for him to stay. The La Clinica Mobile Health Center visits twice a week, and there Jimmy got medication for his high blood pressure and heart disease.
“The medicine I got from the mobile unit really helped me out,” Jimmy said. “I take heart medicine and the pills really take the pressure off, help me live healthily, and think clearer. Medicine is pretty important when you are in pain.”
But the team didn’t just provide medical care. They connected him with resources to help him get a copy of his birth certificate so he could get a state identification card. Bob Baumann, team lead for the Mobile Health Center, persistently called partner agencies asking for screenings and rescreenings until Jimmy linked up with an Options for Southern Oregon case manager. His case manager is helping him apply for Social Security and has found an assisted living facility where he can live once he secures the benefits available to him.
Jimmy got permission to extend his stay at the mission while he worked through medical and bureaucratic issues, so he didn’t land back on the streets.
“It was years in the making, getting him to stick around,” Bob said, noting that deep connections between La Clinica, the Mission, and Options helped make the difference.
Advocating for La Clinica visits that build resilience in kids
“I try to give our students something they can sustain throughout their lives. I think they need to do the self-work and build their personal capacity for resilience. They may need to create their own safe haven.” —Liz Landon, principal, Oak Grove Elementary
Liz Landon, the principal at Oak Grove Elementary School, knows the importance of giving kids tools to build resilience so they can overcome poverty, homelessness, drug use in the family, and a rash of other complications that crowd the halls of the school.
The adult connections she made during her own traumatic childhood gave her tools that enabled her to be the first person in her family to attend college and ultimately become an educator dedicated to creating a safe space where kids can come to love learning.
That’s why she welcomed a program to bring La Clinica wellness coach Ginny Miller to teach mindfulness to first graders in the spring of 2018.
“I try to give our students something they can sustain throughout their lives,” Landon said. “I think they need to do the self-work and build their personal capacity for resilience. They may need to create their own safe haven.”
She put the mindfulness training in place in classrooms where she knew students and teachers needed extra support. The program now includes two first-grade classes, a second-grade class, and one kindergarten class at Oak Grove and will expand to Jackson Elementary this spring. It also has broadened to provide training for teachers, a step Landon likens to putting on their own oxygen masks so they can help others.
“In the classroom, we are winning the argument that mindfulness training takes instructional time by showing that we are gaining instructional time because everyone is mentally and physically present and their brains are ready to learn,” Landon said.
She is also seeing examples of how the mindfulness training’s simple breathing techniques to manage emotions and better understanding of brain function ripple outside the classroom to transform lives. She knew one first grade student was struggling after the death of a beloved grandparent forced his family to move while also coping with his parents’ divorce. When she asked how he was doing, he told her that repeating the mindfulness exercises he learned in class each night at bedtime helped him forget his stress and go to sleep.
“It beautifully aligns with my philosophy that it is easier to raise a healthy child than to fix a broken adult,” Landon said.
For Phoenix third-grader, care starts at school
“We’re very grateful that they saved him from being in pain and me worry about what to do now. Now I know that dental care is important.” —Elizabeth Bazan, Allen’s mother
Today, third-grader Allen Bazan is the picture of dental health: He’s got a gleaming smile, a twice-a-day brushing habit, and protective sealants covering his molars to ensure they stay cavity free.
That’s a change from last year, when an 8-year-old Allen first sat in a La Clinica dental chair as Happy Smiles dental staff visited Phoenix Elementary School to screen students for oral health issues. Allen, who had never been to a dentist, had eight cavities and needed root canals with crowns and extractions to address the growing issues in his mouth.
“He had never been to the dentist—we think that kids’ teeth fall out anyway, so it doesn’t matter,” said his mother, Elizabeth Bazan, through a translator. The family had moved from rural Mexico to the U.S. in 2016.
In the schools, Happy Smiles screens for issues, educates kids about care, and with parents’ permission provides fluoride treatment and molar sealants. In cases like Allen’s, kids are referred for follow-up care with a dentist. Allen didn’t have a dentist, so the Happy Smiles team scheduled follow-up at La Clinica’s East Medford Dental Clinic, where the boy saw a pediatric dentist who completed the work he needed over five appointments.
A check-up at the clinic in September showed he was cavity-free, and when Happy Smiles encountered him again—exactly one year after the team first saw him—they applied the sealants, a plastic tooth covering that protects molars from cavities.
“We’re very grateful that they saved him from being in pain and me worry about what to do now,” said Elizabeth Bazan. “Now I know that dental care is important” for everyone.
Living uninsured with diabetes
“I was frustrated when I was first diagnosed, but now I’m confident that I will be able to control my diabetes. It is stable and my life is in balance.” —Jorge Martinez
Even though Jorge Martinez, 57, has a steady job cooking and cleaning at a Medford fast food restaurant, he doesn’t have health insurance. But he knows he has to manage his diabetes so he can stay active and enjoy life with his adult children and four grandchildren, who range in age from 4 to 17 years old.
For that, he relies on services from La Clinica, where he has been a patient for 18 years, first at Phoenix Health Center and now at the Wellness Center.
“I get a lot of help and support from the providers,” Jorge said in Spanish. La Clinica’s income-based sliding scale helps keeps costs of his visits manageable for him.
Initially he got some free samples of the insulin he needed. Then his care team connected him with a pharmacy discount program so he could get affordable prescriptions. La Clinica also provided education so he could learn more about controlling his disease with diet and exercise, along with medication.
He’s taken classes in healthy eating, managing chronic conditions, and setting wellness goals for physical, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, financial, and environmental health.
“I was frustrated when I was first diagnosed, but now I’m confident that I will be able to control my diabetes,” he said. “It is stable and my life is in balance.”