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Profile: Sofia

Isolated and afraid

Isolated at home in the middle of a pandemic, Sofia suspected her strange symptoms — from throat pain to cheek swelling and vertigo -- might be from COVID-19. Though her condition remains a bit of a mystery, Sofia is now receiving advanced specialty care through Project Access Northwest, all at no cost to her.

“From the moment I walked through the door, everyone was very kind… I was afraid of it because I didn’t have the ability to pay. But I was never treated differently. They treated me the same as everyone.”

—Sofia ,
Care Coordination Program patient

While many of us experienced some degree of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, our patient Sofia* was hit particularly hard. She started developing strange symptoms — from throat pain to a swollen cheek, pressure in her ears and vertigo. She even had the sensation of something crawling in her ear! Isolated from friends and family and without medical insurance, Sofia became increasingly anxious.

Was this COVID? Cancer? Did she dare seek care during a pandemic? And how could she pay for medical treatment without insurance? She couldn’t even work due to her illness.

As her condition worsened, Sofia faced her fears and went to her local community health center, HealthPoint in Bothell. There, her provider ruled out COVID-19, much to Sofia’s relief, but wanted to send Sofia to a specialist for further evaluation.

Sofia didn’t know how she could pay for the appointment or needed tests.

“I had no good options,” explains Sofia. “I would have waited until it was unbearable and then gone to the Emergency Room. Then I would have tried to work out a way to make small payments to pay for the visit. I would not have gotten follow-up treatment.”

That’s when she was referred to Project Access Northwest and quickly enrolled as a patient.

She has since seen a series of specialists at Kaiser Permanente, from audiology and neurology to radiology and labs. In fact, our care coordination team has had more than 55 “touches” (pieces of work) related to her care and appointments, and that number is likely to rise.

While her diagnosis remains a bit of a mystery as of this time, Sofia is getting relief from her symptoms, continuing to see her providers and moving toward better health — all at no cost to her.

“I am deeply grateful,” says Sofia, reflecting on Project Access Northwest’s Care Coordination Program and her providers at Kaiser Permanente. “The care I have received has been terrific. From the moment I walked through the door, everyone was very kind. … I was afraid of it because I didn’t have the ability to pay. But I was never treated differently. They treated me the same as everyone. They were wonderful.”

Today Sofia is looking forward to returning to work and being able to see her family and friends.

Project Access Northwest serves thousands of patients like Sofia through its Care Coordination Program. Please contact us if you’d like to know more.

* Patient name changed to protect privacy, but consent was provided to share her story