Imagine you’ve been hospitalized with a cardiac event. You had been dealing with hypertension for some time but couldn’t see a doctor because the cost of insurance was more than you could afford, so you watched your diet and hoped for the best. But, it had been becoming more difficult to do basic activities without feeling winded and fatigued. Then, one day, you fainted. When you were discharged from the hospital, you were told you need medications right away and to get enrolled in the care of a congestive heart failure specialist. Imagine: no insurance, and your heart condition means you have to improve before being medically cleared to go back to work. No paycheck? The list of worries quickly begins to spiral.
At The Clinics we host a Congestive Heart Failure clinic every Wednesday and see as many as 35 patients just like this. Meeting their medical needs is our top priority so we provide lab testing, education, patient visits with a specialist, primary care for other medical issues, and medications. But for someone who cannot be medically cleared to work, other needs like secure housing, a reliable food source (heart healthy at that), transportation, and utility funds become as important to the health of the person as access to healthcare.
Social determinants of health (SDoH) are factors in our lives that have bearing on physical health. The book How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick by Veronica Quires and Breanna Lathrop explains, “The social gradient of health (a theory formed by Michael Marmot in 1978) simply states that where a person is on the social ladder determines their health status and mortality.”
Christian faith teaches us to care for those who sit low on the social ladder. The strain of poverty steals health and poor health can cause poverty.
The Clinics has begun screening our Congestive Heart Failure patients for social determinants of health. If our patients who are not medically cleared to work need assistance with social services, we arrange for them to meet with a United Way of Hall County Licensed Social Worker after their medical appointment.
Can you feel the love? It’s Christ’s love. It’s innovative, comprehensive, and encompasses the whole person. Help our patients feel the love this February. The need is great, but the blessing is greater.