This year we celebrated the third birthday of Wallace’s dental clinic. In those three years, our dental and medical teams have worked hand in hand to bring whole person health care to kids and adults in our community. We’d like to share with you the story of one patient, Duane, for whom our dental clinic became the starting point on a journey toward good health.
Duane walked into our dental clinic earlier this year with a painful dental abscess that had been bothering him for days. The old antibiotics he had left over weren’t helping, and his pain was too intense to ignore any longer. Wallace Dental Director Kyle Geelan saw him right away, treated the abscess, and suggested Duane come back in a couple days for a full exam.
Duane was skeptical about returning. He’d avoided going to the dentist his whole life. But he was also worried about missing work if the pain returned. On his way out, Duane made an appointment for an exam later that week.
When Duane and Kyle began the exam, Duane joked that the last doctor he saw was when he was born. “Why would I see a doctor? What are they going to tell me? I smoke, I used to have a drinking problem… they aren’t exactly going to say something good.”
Kyle understood, and reassured him. “I told him we have a friendly medical staff who would love to see him, who aren’t in the business of passing judgement. It’s not about guilt; it’s about giving him tools, and letting him decide what to do with them.” Two days later, Duane had his first visit with a Wallace medical provider.
After that, Duane began to have a different attitude about asking the doctor for help. He started enrolling in a variety of primary care services at Wallace, including a smoking cessation program. He checks in between appointments to ask questions and get advice.
For Kyle, Duane’s transformation is striking. “Duane is not the same guy who first came in to our clinic. I’m amazed at what can happen when someone is given the tools they need to get healthy, and they run with it. They just need that spark.”
Duane’s story is not rare. Dental crises escalate faster than other health problems. For people with neglected health, a dental emergency is very likely to become their first acute issue to surface. That makes Wallace’s dental clinic an entry point for patients with serious, accumulated health care needs. By treating these dental emergencies every day, our care teams build rapport and create bridges of trust. From there, we can connect patients to the rest of the resources and services they need.
For every person like Duane that we’re able to help at Wallace, there’s another who needs us just as desperately. This holiday season, consider making a gift to Wallace to help provide this care. Your contribution today can mean not only immediate relief from dental pain, but the possibility of a new and healthier future for someone who never thought they’d hear a doctor “say something good.”
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.
At The Wallace Medical Concern, we help our patients get well, and we support them in taking on the root problems that lead to poor health. This year, Wallace began a pilot program to tackle one of the biggest determinants of health for our patients: housing.
We estimate 20 percent of Wallace patients have experienced homelessness in the last six months. Without intervention, many will wait years for affordable housing opportunities to arise. Meanwhile, their health problems can grow out of control. It’s too easy to lose hope.
Below is the story of our very first family to find housing through our new program, Housing for Health. Their story is a reminder of the struggle so many families face to stay safe, housed and healthy… and how Wallace and our supporters can make a difference!
Two years ago, Robert Baker’s car was towed, and he was fired for not getting to work on time. Without an income, his family struggled to make rent. They were quickly evicted, and he, his wife Ashley, their five-year-old son and their newborn twins found themselves living in his car.
The past two years have been desperately hard for the Bakers. Robert works three poorly-paying jobs, and Ashley’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits ended. Without enough room to sleep comfortably, they took turns sleeping in the trunk. The whole family caught and shared colds. Then, two months ago, Ashley broke out with shingles, aggravated by sleeping in the cramped car seat. Her pain and frustration became overwhelming.
Things started looking up when the Bakers saw the sign for The Wallace Medical Concern as they drove past. They pulled over to get Ashley help. As a part of her care that day, Ashley was asked about her housing situation and other health determinants. She was immediately referred to our Housing for Health program.
Housing for Health connects Wallace patients with a Housing Navigator, who identifies affordable housing resources and helps make the transition into housing go smoothly. Housing Navigator Christine Sanders worked closely with the Bakers, finding a 3-bedroom home they could rent with a subsidy, and enrolling them in classes to teach them the homemaking and budgeting skills they need to stay in their new home.
“It all starts with housing,” said Christine. “Take care of that one big stressor, and suddenly everything else becomes fixable.” Meanwhile, the whole Baker family became Wallace patients, and began receiving regular medical and dental care for the first time. Their son’s school attendance improved.
The day of the move, Christine rented a truck and took the Bakers to Community Warehouse. Ashley and Robert picked out furniture and appliances they would need. The twins grabbed baskets and filled them with toys to bring home.
As Ashley and Robert unpacked boxes, their oldest son followed Robert around, imitating him. The twins ran from room to room, chasing each other. Ashley eventually sat down to stretch her legs. Teary-eyed, she told Christine she felt like they were a normal family again, adding:
“I felt like everyone had given up on us. Thank you for seeing us, and helping.”
With the Bakers moved in, our Housing for Health team is focused on keeping up the momentum. “There are two more Wallace families we’re trying to get off the street by New Year’s,” said Christine. “There’s a lot to do, but we can do it with the help of our supporters.
Please join me and support our mission of good health for everyone by making a gift today. Your contribution will give families who face almost unimaginable challenges the chance to return to good health—and a normal life—together.
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.
Wallace supporters like you help every family who walks through our doors live healthier, happier lives. Your support gives hope to those worried they have no one to turn to for care. Below is the story of one family, Amado and Melba Trinidad, for whom Wallace made a huge difference. As you read their story, remember the affordable care and classes we offer at Wallace wouldn’t be possible without you.
Melba and Amado both work long, physically taxing shifts as a housekeeper and janitor respectively. Last year, after Amado had worked through a day of stomachaches, dizziness and exhaustion, he collapsed on the way to his bus stop home.
When Amado came to, police officers told him he had fainted on the street. EMTs asked if he had insurance and where they should take him. But he was new to Oregon’s health system and didn’t know how to answer.
After he arrived at the hospital, Amado called his wife Melba to tell her she shouldn’t worry, and that he would be home soon. But the hospital called shortly after to tell her she needed to come to the hospital right away. Amado had had a heart attack, and would need immediate open-heart surgery.
Melba Trinidad knows about waiting. She waited 23 years before being allowed to follow her sister from the Philippines to America. And it was another two years before Amado could join her. But waiting two weeks while Amado recovered in the hospital were some of her hardest days.
“I was so scared I was shaking. I wondered every day if I would see him again,” Melba says.
Once Amado was released, Melba brought him to WMC provider Julia Frey, who was already helping Melba cope with diabetes. Although they only had emergency insurance coverage, WMC’s sliding scale discount meant they could both afford regular check-ups with Julia.
Julia Frey told Melba and Amado that they held the keys to their health. Changing their diets and habits would be a challenge, but would let them lead the lives they wanted, together. They enrolled in WMC diabetes and nutrition classes and learned how to cook heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly meals with plenty of fruits, veggies and nuts.
“I don’t like it,” Amado says, laughing. “But the classes give us everything we need to keep trying new foods and new recipes.” He also makes sure to go walking, and just started attending WMC Tai Chi classes.
Today, this determined couple is reaping the benefits of these changes. Staying healthy has brought financial security and more time with their family. Amado is at a much lower risk for another heart attack, and, thanks to their new diet and regular exercise, Melba has stopped needing daily medication for her diabetes.
Melba and Amado want to spread the word about Wallace. “All the housekeepers I work with don’t have doctors,” says Melba. “They think doctors are too expensive. I tell them all to go to Wallace. At Wallace, they’re affordable, they speak Spanish, they really listen, and they do everything they can to help.
Melba and Amado also have a message for WMC supporters: Thank you.
“We count on Wallace for so much. And there are so many others who count on Wallace. To everyone who helps Wallace, thank you.”
The Trinidads aren’t alone: stories of hope and perseverance happen in our clinic every day. And so every day there are reasons to thank our supporters. This holiday season, if you haven’t yet, please consider joining our supporters by making a gift to Wallace. Your gift will be put to work immediately caring for those who need us most.
Click here to learn more about supporting the Wallace Medical Concern.