34 years ago, Jacqueline Aird was a 16 year old living with her mother in an apartment on Belmont Street. That’s when Ms. Aird first became our patient. At the time, Community of Hope had just opened a small health center in the same building where Ms. Aird lived, and her mother sent her downstairs for her back-to-school checkup. We have moved and expanded since then – from that small facility on Belmont Street to three federally qualified health centers across the city – but we have been there for Ms. Aird the whole time.
Ms. Aird has mostly been in great health, but a year and a half ago everything began to change. Stresses in work and family life were wearing her down, and she turned to binge eating to cope. She found herself gaining weight and losing energy. Dr. Thompson, her longtime physician at Community of Hope’s Marie Reed Health Center, noticed these changes, and recommended that she start eating healthier, warning that she was becoming borderline diabetic. Jacqueline didn’t take her doctor’s advice seriously, telling herself, “Diabetes? I’ll never get that.”
Unfortunately, her condition worsened and eventually landed her in the hospital. Her off-the-charts blood sugar and low potassium had become life-threatening. “That’s when the reality set in,” she said. “This is not what I wanted for myself. So I said, ‘Self, you’ve got to make a change!’”
And Community of Hope was there to help. Her doctor put her in touch with a health coach to develop a personalized plan to manage her diabetes. “I didn’t know that if I just changed my eating habits and exercised that it would make a big difference in my blood sugar,” she said. She recommitted to eating regular, balanced meals, bought healthier snacks and started to exercise daily.
“Community of Hope recognized that my health was deeper than just the diabetes,” she said. Complex issues in her life, from workplace stressors to childhood traumas, were affecting her wellbeing. So, her health coach connected her with our diabetes group, one-on-one visits with our therapist and group therapy for extra support.
The results were dramatic. “The weight started melting away,” she reported, and her blood sugar levels started to steadily decline. Today, her blood sugar is steady at non-diabetic levels. Our coordinated care made all the difference. “I was getting my wraparound services right here – therapy, my health coach, and my doctor keeping a regular check on me,” she said. “I know that I could not have done it alone.”
For the past 34 years, Ms. Aird has appreciated the compassionate services she gets at Community of Hope, but she is especially grateful that we were there to help her when she needed it most.
“I’ve seen the doctors go from writing on paper to bringing laptops into appointments,” she says. “Now I use the patient portal to check my lab results online! I have watched Community of Hope grow, and I know they will continue to grow, and I want to continue to be here with them.”