Curtis Brucia suffered a heart attack in early 2015. While in recovery, he lost his job in retail. He was 43 years old and in a desperate situation. With no job and no insurance, he was unable to buy the medicine he needed to stay healthy.
AccessHealth Spartanburg changed his life.
“I probably would have moved back to Texas, where my family is. I really don’t know,” he said.
Instead, he has the medicine he needs. He’s going for routine checkups with a cardiologist. And he’s now back at work.
“They have just been a huge help to me,” he said.
Brucia is one of several thousand uninsured patients served by AccessHealth since its inception in 2010. Spartanburg Regional Foundation serves as the fiscal agent for AccessHealth. The foundation also awarded grants to the organization and provided support through the annual employee fundraising campaign.
AccessHealth benefits not only individual patients, but the whole community.
Too often, when uninsured patients are sick – even with relatively minor illnesses – they head to the emergency room to receive care. This is the least effective and most expensive solution. By connecting uninsured patients to a primary medical home, AccessHealth significantly reduces costs for the healthcare system while improving health outcomes.
In Spartanburg County, about 39,000 residents go without health insurance. Some are unemployed, while others work in jobs that don’t provide healthcare benefits. AccessHealth partners with multiple agencies in the community to fill the void, including ReGenesis Healthcare, St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic and the Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center.
“We work to provide holistic care,” case manager Summer Tebalt said.
So, while connecting patients with a primary care physician is central to the mission of AccessHealth, Tebalt and other staff members address a wide range of needs.
For example, if a patient lacks reliable transportation, then it might be impossible to keep an appointment with a doctor. Case managers work with patients to find a solution. Some AccessHealth clients are homeless, and case managers partner with local organizations to help secure housing. While Brucia was out of work, Tebalt helped him apply for food stamps.
“We overcome barriers to health care and connect our clients with resources in the community,” Tebalt said.
In addition to meeting medical and material needs, AccessHealth provides an emotional connection for many of its clients.
“They treat me like family,” Brucia said. “I love Summer like you have no idea.”
The organization has unlocked a powerful formula – addressing patients’ specific healthcare needs, removing barriers to access, and showing patients respect and compassion, according to AccessHealth Director Carey Rothschild.
“I know, and I think our staff knows, that we're making a difference,” Rothschild told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “We read on cards that people leave in the suggestion box and the most common one is, 'You saved my life,' and 'You treated me with dignity and kindness,' and we know that they don't receive the same service everywhere that we strive to provide here.”