Story Highlights Importance Of Health Advocacy
Editor’s Note: This weekly column is part of an ongoing series in which various residents of the community share their United Way story and how United Way has personally impacted them.
The support of United Way of Southern Chautauqua County has been instrumental in the success of our Community Health Advocate program.
The following story illustrates this and represents only one of the many of people that have been helped by our program’s community health advocate.
Mr. M is an 82-year-old man that has lived by himself most of his life. He began to have significant cardiac problems several years ago and was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure.
Our community health advocate assisted Mr. M to navigate the complex healthcare system by arranging cardiology appointments and accompany him to multiple appointments to help him to better understand the doctor’s explanation and directions and to make sure all his questions were being answered.
At one appointment, it was suggested that he needed an implanted defibrillator. Mr. M. did not fully understand what the implications of a defibrillator were despite a thorough explanation by his doctor. Our community health advocate facilitated discussions between Mr. M. and his out-of-town relatives so that all would be fully included and possibly be able to help Mr. M. with this overwhelming decision.
During this time, Mr. M. was hospitalized several times and subsequently sent to rehab. Our community health advocate was there every step of the way to make sure each transition was as effective and easy as possible.
When he was sent home, the community health advocate visited three to four times a week and made daily phone calls to him to make sure he knew he was not alone and that he had someone he could count on. Eventually, Mr. M. decided he did not want anymore invasive attempts to extend his life. He was sent to assisted living where he is doing well. Our Community Health Advocate continues to visit to make sure all his needs are being met.
Dr. LJ Baylis is executive director with Community Connections at Findley Lake, whose mission is to give residents of Findley Lake and the surrounding communities both the practical means and confidence to live their lives to the fullest in their own homes as they grow older. More information can be found at connectionsatfindleylake.org. United Way of Southern Chautauqua County invests in 25 zip codes in Southern Chautauqua County.