Merlys Garcia and Ester Gomez, Hedis Compliance Technicians, do not typically make house calls. But recently they ventured out of their offices at the Doris Ison Health Center to bring two new pairs of shoes to a patient. Typically, Garcia and Gomez connect with Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) patients over the phone when they are due for appointments. The ladies ensure that some of the most challenging patients with barriers to care, don’t fall through the cracks. So, when the team called a patient after he didn’t show up for a specialist appointment they were moved by the reason for his absence.
“He said I’m not gonna lie to you,” recalls Gomez. “I don’t have any shoes.”
He told her he had been hospitalized and someone stole his shoes.
They asked him what size he wears, and both Garcia and Gomez put their own money together to buy two new pairs for him.
The patient suffers from heart related issues that also interfere with his memory. After his recent hospital discharge they wanted to be sure he was doing well. So, they brought a nurse from CHI along with them to the patient’s home. The nurse checked his vitals and overall condition and the three presented him with his new shoes.
“He was very grateful for the shoes and he started talking to us about his medical history,” said Gomez. “He suffered several strokes and he has been trying to improve himself.”
It’s a moment in time that Garcia said she will cherish. “He was so grateful. He even had tears in his eyes,” remembered Garcia. “Just getting from beyond the desk and being with him, it means the world. We even prayed with him because he is a very religious person.”
The ladies were able to bring down his blood pressure at that moment and schedule a follow-up appointment for him to see the doctor. Now with his new shoes, he was confident he could make his next appointment.
“I told him that he is an inspiration to me because my father is a stroke patient,” said Gomez. “He keeps going, he wants to better himself, he has a disability, but he can improve.”
The news spread quickly back at CHI and both Gomez and Garcia were awarded with CHI’s ACTion Hero Award for their generous and caring response to a patient’s needs.