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Profile: Sandra

Pain was preventing her from providing for her family

Project Access Northwest patient and keynote speaker Sandra gets a hug from her son Christopher

We are so grateful to so many… I was in so much pain and on my feet all day. And I love my job and caring for my family.

—Sandra ,
Orthopedics

Sandra is a 55-year-old single mother of three sons attending college. To care for and support her family, she works more than 40 hours per week as an hourly employee at Value Village in King County. The family lives on $75 a day, without much support other than the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Sandra uses to make ends meet.

 

Low-income patients face an impossible choice

Imagine that you are Sandra and you have a health care challenge that requires surgery and the help of a specialist. You need thousands of dollars in care and must decide between that care and paying your monthly utility bill or rent. This scenario is the norm, not the exception, for thousands of people every year in our area. That was the reality for Sandra. Luckily, Project Access Northwest, with the help of many partners, was able to provide her a solution, as we do for thousands of patients every year.

Sandra went to HealthPoint in Redmond with knee pain. Sandra’s ability to work was starting to be impacted, which threatened her family’s security. Recognizing that Sandra needed more than could be offered in primary care, her HealthPoint provider referred her to Project Access Northwest.

This is where the partnership and resources of our friends in the health system were put on display. Theresa started in physical therapy donated by Swedish Medical Centers in Redmond. When therapy didn’t provide adequate relief, Sandra was sent to UW/Valley Medical Center for imaging and an orthopedic consult. They tried an injection, but the relief was short-lived; Sandra needed surgical intervention. At this point, our partners at Kaiser Permanente offered to take over Sandra’s care and donate surgery. They partnered with Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, which provided the surgery space and ancillary needs. Once she had her successful surgery, her post-op physical therapy was done at Kaiser Permanente.

 

​ Care coordinators navigate complex systems

What does it take to care for a patient in Sandra’s position? Project Access Northwest oversaw Sandra’s 12 medical cases, navigated four health systems, enrolled and re-enrolled her 10 times, arranged for more than 65 appointments and had more than 190 “touches” (individual pieces of work) during her care. Our tremendously skilled care coordinators helped her navigate a system that can be overwhelming.

“You have been such a blessing to our family,” said her son, with tears rolling down his face, “We don’t know what we would have done without Project Access Northwest and the wonderful doctors we’ve seen.”

“We are so grateful to so many,” says Sandra, who says the pain had made working unbearable. “I was in so much pain and on my feet all day. And I love my job and caring for my family.”

Together with its wide network of generous health care partners, Project Access Northwest forms an integral part of the safety net for our community’s most vulnerable members.