After a diabetic patient suffering from dizzy spells and fainting went to the local emergency room, they were instructed to follow up with a primary healthcare provider. The patient spoke little English and had no means of reliable transportation to see a primary care doctor. HealthFinders Collaborative (HFC) was recommended as a next step.

The patient had been to HealthFinders in the past. However, despite providers’ best efforts, the patient was still struggling with health issues. So, when the patient returned to HealthFinders, a home visit with community health worker (CHW) Raquel was arranged. The hope was that by visiting the patient in their own environment Raquel could possibly discover the reasons underlying the patient’s difficulty in following the recommended care plan.

During the home visit, Raquel encouraged the patient to attend HealthFinders’ diabetes class, but it soon became clear that diabetes was not the only health issue for the patient. Raquel noticed the patient was struggling to read the instructions on the insulin bottle. Initially, Raquel translated the medication instructions into Spanish and with larger text. However, even with the larger letters and instructions written in Spanish, the patient continued to experience troubles and revealed that they could not read. Their inability to read, in addition to vision problems, meant that the patient had been guessing medication dosages.

Equipped with this knowledge, Raquel adapted her approach to caring for the patient. She color-coded the insulin, wrote big numbers on each of the bottles, and provided the patient with a syringe magnifier. In addition, Raquel not only made sure there was a referral for the eye clinic but, remembering the identified transportation issues, she drove the patient to the eye appointment!

A follow-up visit found the patient feeling much better with a renewed sense of self-esteem. No longer suffering from dizzy spells, the patient routinely comes to their medical appointments and exercises daily. Moreover, the patient now understands the medications and the proper dosages.

While diabetes remains a chronic issue, the patient is taking active steps to manage the disease. “I am very grateful for all that HealthFinders and the community health workers have helped me with. I tell all my friends that I feel they really care about patients. Because of HealthFinders, I can see again with my new glasses, and I know more about my diabetes medications. I hope everyone finds out about the work you all do and how much it has helped me.”

HealthFinders’ diabetic patients who achieved control of their diabetes increased by 16% over 2018.

The work of CHWs at HealthFinders goes beyond the exam room and into the community where patients live. CHWs, like Raquel, work diligently to remove barriers to care access to ensure that everyone receives the healthcare they need, regardless of their life circumstances.