Patricia was on an unexpected medical leave from work and struggling to access community benefits on her own. She learned of Health Leads through her sister, who had been referred a few weeks earlier by her doctor and worked with an Advocate to obtain health insurance for her child.

As she continued to struggle to meet many of her basic needs, Patricia learned that bedbugs from a neighboring apartment had come through the walls and infested her own apartment as well. As a result, Patricia was forced to get rid of all her furniture. The same week, her gas was disconnected because she couldn’t pay her bills on time.

Frustrated, Patricia visited the Health Leads Desk at Chicago Family Health Center’s Chicago Lawn location.  Over the next few weeks, Patricia worked with an Advocate to connect to food stamps, gas restoration services, and CountyCare.  She was also able to find furniture vouchers from the Salvation Army to help replace some of her furniture. Each week, an Advocate would follow up with Patricia by phone, but often she would visit the Health Leads Desk because she didn’t have a reliable cell phone and appreciated the face-to-face contact with the Advocates. Patricia recalls that the Advocates were always informed on her progress and treated her with a great deal of kindness. Several weeks later, Patricia reported that the services she connected with through Health Leads had significantly helped improve her life.

Most of all, Patricia had much to say about the way she was treated by the Chicago Advocates, calling the program both revolutionary and humane:

At Health Leads, Advocates are learning how to listen to the patient, how to advocate for the patient, and how to work with doctors. They have the time to explain to you what you need to know. They are doctors in training and when they do become doctors, I hope they take this culture of listening into their practice.

Patricia is one of over 14,500 patients across the country who will work with Health Leads this year to make the basic resource connections to improve their health.  By taking into consideration the full set of factors that affect patients’ health, Health Leads Advocates are able to help thousands of patients like Patricia live healthier, more productive lives.

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