Faces from Volunteers in Medicine

Her face when she smiles is radiant. She has smooth flawless skin for she is still young. She is in her late twenties and her face does not yet reflect the pathology going on in her body. She does have the florid check color of most hypertensive people but on her it does not yet look ill. It just adds dimension to her smooth pale round face.

 My first encounter with her was five months ago when she came to Volunteers in Medicine to see a Cardiologist who volunteers four hours a month. She had recently been discharged from the hospital where she was treated for a virus that attacked her heart. The virus caused severe cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. Because her heart doesnít pump well she has fluid build up in her lungs, swelling all over her body and is at risk for blood clots. Her lungs donít work well at night and she needs positive pressure oxygen during sleep. She is also diabetic and needs medication for that. She needs a total of 13 medications a day just to survive. The retail cost of these medications is $478.00 per month.

When she came to the clinic that day she brought a sack full of empty drug bottles and had no money. I sent her to DFACS to apply for SSI and Medicaid and helped her get some of her medicine with funds that were donated by private citizens.

We waited for her Medicaid to be approved and were devastated to find out it was denied because her SSI check was going to be $700 which is too high to qualify for benefits. She was out of Lanoxin that day but said she could just take her momís; they were the same strength.

Her mom is very sick also. She has diabetes, heart disease and is in renal failure. She goes with her mom every time she is hospitalized and has dialysis. She sits long hours in hospital waiting rooms, during which times her lower body puffs up with fluid. But then all they have is each other.

This is only one of the hundreds of Faces that appear at the door of our indigent drug room every month. The paper work involved in ordering 13 drugs for just one patient is phenomenal but we are rewarded with a radiant grateful smile each time we place her indigent drugs into her little brown paper bag. Each day we are reminded that there are still many others out there who we donít have time to help because the paper work is so time consuming.

Dianne Brown is the RN Case Manager for the Volunteers in Medicine program.  Funding for her position was provided by the Healthcare Partnershipís successful grant: Access Georgia Rural Health Grant.