Julia Guevara did not feel safe outside in her neighborhood, had shut herself in for two years, and was slowly drifting into depression. Things began to change when she was invited to join Covenant Community Care’s MI Care Team, a new program created to provide patients with extra support in overcoming barriers to a healthier life. “The team deals with us all in one program, but they know we are all different. They know how to put it [a plan to help us achieve health goals] together and it works! Ester Gallegos, one of Covenant’s Community Health Workers, calls patients to connect them with group health and fitness opportunities and to offer transportation. Ester also helps make connections even though participants come from different walks of life. “Not only do I get to meet people, It spurs me on to want to take care of myself better. It gives me energy and motivates me.”
Joe lives in a broken down trailer on Detroit’s west side. It rests on cinder blocks and all the windows are smashed in. Joe recently had all of his toes amputated and his bandages were soiled and old. Through Covenant’s Homeless Outreach program, Stanley Stinson serves people like Joe. Stanley’s passion for serving others is palpable and he has cared for the poor, through medicine, around the world. Stanley also used to be homeless as a younger man. He doesn’t wait for folks to come to our clinics; instead he goes out to them. Stanley has a special connection with those he serves because he understands what it is like to be homeless. Stanley washed and re-bandaged Joe’s feet, and then arranged a doctor’s appointment for Joe the very next day at Covenant’s Michigan Avenue clinic.
Several years ago, Junail Hill was diagnosed with stage III cancer. Because of the cancer she had to take time off from work as a medical services administrator. When she was able to return to work, Ms. Hill was in so much pain from the treatments that she eventually lost her job. She then lost her apartment and moved in with a relative. Eventually, the living situation deteriorated and by early 2015 she was compelled to leave with nowhere else to go. In a short time, she went from earning a steady income and having her own place to living on the street. The moment Ms. Hill walked through the doors of Covenant Community Care she knew something was different. “At my first visit, I saw a nurse calming a patient. I couldn’t help but pay attention. It was her choice of words and her mannerisms.” Immediately, she felt at ease. “Covenant Staff played a great role in opening doors for me. Dr. Kai Palm was caring, she really listened and helped me keep the faith. There is that saying ‘in one ear and out the other.’ It was the exact opposite. She was concerned about me, asked about things and remembered details from my previous visits.” Through the help of an attorney, Junail qualified for a housing voucher program and she located an apartment. In November 2015, she moved into her new place. All the while, she was regularly cared for at Covenant. “God was keeping me! I would pour out my heart to Dr. Palm. I was always anxious to get to the clinic for that support. I just needed to tell her about the good things that were happening.” Junail continues to get primary care at Covenant. She says of her experience, “Covenant people are people of God. If I hadn’t gone I would not be here today. They set me on the right path.”
When James Hardy experienced Covenant Community Care at an outreach event, most of his teeth were either fractured or severely decayed and had to be taken out. Two oral surgery interns, through our partnership with the University of Detroit Mercy Oral Surgery program, provided him with the initial extractions and fitted him for dentures. James had some concerns about getting his new dentures. “I don’t want to have someone say… ‘Dang, he must have just got those!’ I wanted my teeth worked on so they looked used, like old regular teeth.” After receiving the upper portion of the denture, James confessed that friends and family told him that his new teeth didn’t really look like him. Dr. Lynn Eickholt, Covenant’s Chief Dental Officer, immediately stepped in to address his concerns. When recalling his experience with Dr. Lynn, James said, “…she takes her time and she does what you ask [for]. I was comfortable and it helped me have patience [throughout the process]” Dr. Eickholt asked James to put his teeth in and realized there were some bite issues. Dr. Lynn shared that often in Detroit, she sees patients that have ill-fitting, poorly made, and/or defective dentures. She cares for patients that oftentimes can’t close their mouths properly and even cannot eat.“I made it a mission of mine that if we do a case and it’s not functioning well, we’re going to make it right. James patiently waited for Covenant to make it right and in the meantime became like family to the team. “When we deliver someone’s dentures, it’s like a party” said Dr. Lynn. When he finally received his new teeth, James shared, “I got some beautiful teeth. They are perfect. Perfect.”