Monica Torres first visited the Health Leads desk at Hasbro Children’s Hospital after a well visit for one of her grandchildren. For the past several months, Monica and her husband had been caring for their three grandchildren, ages 9, 7, and 5, because her daughter was not equipped to care for them on her own. Around the time she began caring for her grandchildren, Monica was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

A few months before Monica learned she had breast cancer, her husband, Michael, found out that he was going to be laid off from his job at a local factory. Because they were supporting their three grandchildren and knew it might be tough for Michael to immediately find a new job, he began working overtime shifts to save some extra money. While they were devastated that they would lose the only income their family had, they felt lucky to have learned of these impending lay-offs with enough time to save some money.

Unfortunately, because of his increased overtime pay, the Torres family no longer qualified for Medicaid. Monica and Michael’s health insurance would soon be canceled and the only opportunity they would have to reapply would be in the five days between with Michael was laid off and when Monica had her surgery to remove the cancerous tumors.

Monica learned about the opportunity to expedite her insurance application from Yasmin, the Health Leads Advocate with whom she was working at the time. Monica had already tried to contact the Department of Human Services (DHS) about her insurance several times, but had not had any success. Over the course of several visits to the Health Leads Desk and a number of follow-up calls, Yasmin worked with Monica to fill out the appropriate paperwork and discuss what she would say when she went to the DHS office to reapply for health insurance.

Yasmin spoke with Monica several times after her surgery.  Monica was able to get covered in time for her surgery and was incredibly grateful to Health Leads for helping her avoid crippling medical debt.  Importantly, she was very appreciative that she had someone who listened to her and cared about her situation, because many people did not.  Simply having a person to talk to made a big difference.

Monica 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 Monica live healthier, more productive lives.

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