Click here to learn more.
Click here to learn more.
Rowell Pereya legally emigrated to the United States from the Philippines. As a musician, he found it difficult to find a job moderate pay, much less benefits. At the end of 2011 he noticed that the frequent nose bleeds his heritage blessed him with becoming more frequent and more severe. He went to a Dignity Hospital, but without insurance very little help was available to him. A registered nurse who worked there referred him to Hope Community Health Center, a non-profit health clinic for those without insurance.
Hope Community Health Center is staffed exclusively with volunteer doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, medical assistants, receptionists, and translators. These people volunteer their time and energy to care for those with little or no access to other healthcare. They strive to maintain a high level of expertise in their respective fields.
Rowell saw Dr. Ronald Sell, MD about his nose bleeds and a lump in his neck. Dr. Sell ordered antibiotics and a scan with a follow-up appointment in a few weeks. At the second appointment Dr. Sell referred Rowell to Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology) specialist Randy Oppenheimer, MD at Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix. After reviewing the records, Dr. Oppenheimer did an immediate nasal and laryngeal scoping with biopsies and ordered another scan. On April 15, 2012 Rowell was diagnosed with stage 4 naso-pharyngeal cancer.
The ensuing 37 weeks unfolded with intense radiation and chemotherapy. Rowell's daughter had to take a leave of absence from work in order to help care for him. Dr. Sell assisted with doctor's orders and paperwork.
Rowell lost weight to the point of emaciation, living with immunio-suppression, severe weakness, and radiation burn. He lost his hearing and his sense of taste. Swallowing became difficult and even his ability to speak was affected. Rowell was fitted with a stomach tube for nutritional feedings and surgical tubes were placed in his nose and ears for drainage. His hands and feet burned and tingled. During this time Rowell stopped breathing three times and was resuscitated with Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
On September 25, 2012 Rowell was declared cancer-free and in remission. He slowly regained his ability to swallow. In March 2013 he was able to taste his coffee. “It's sweet!” he reported, and he could swallow it “all the way down.” He is able to eat again, and is gaining weight, but he still has a long way to go. His body does not produce saliva and his voice is not fully recovered. He is still unable to sing.
Despite these difficulties and the continued loss of his passion and profession, this soft-spoken man is upbeat and positive. He praises God for his recovery. He is thankful for Dr. Sell, now his current primary care physician, and all those at Hope Community Health Center and Maricopa Medical Center who treated him.
Now 68, Rowell is looking forward to a family reunion on October 26, 2014 with his six daughters and their families. A reunion made possible by high quality healthcare provided by the volunteers and county doctors at Hope Community Health Center.
HCHC had the best and yet then later the worst economic news in 2014. The best news was HCHC received for 2014 the largest grant it had ever received! Part of this was participating with two local school based partners to provide lab, medical, and behavioral health services for uninsured families and children. The entire grant received was $100,000 from Dignity Health. HCHC received $43,000 to provide labs for the children and medical services for the adults. The potential for good work was highly anticipated, then many problems occurred. HCHC has phlebotomy services for its clients and we were expecting that over 50 kids would be screened for diabetes at the other offices and then referred to our office for 3 labs a year. HCHC already completes over 3,000 labs a year for our impoverished clients without these children on our rolls.
Together our three agencies worked diligently together. We completed a referral form that all three agencies could use. The next issue was to find kids to refer to get labs from nutrition classes and evaluations that were sponsored by the other partners. Enrollment was low for their classes. Another issue was that one partner had a paid staff that would not do any referrals. These issues delayed the opportunity for children to obtain services. Summer then hit and no kids were in school. Right before school started in July we had received 12 referrals from our partners; it was dismal and disappointing. HCHC only got to complete 2 lab draws on 2 at risk diabetics kids. We also found that we couldn’t refer any of our adult clients to receive behavioral health services. The behavioral health group only would see an entire family if a child was the patient. Over much time we were able to refer one family where the child was a client so the family could receive services. This was very frustrating, and I, as President of HCHC was actively challenging the lack of results that was going on in the other agencies. Our credibility was on the line and I knew that I had to protect our work. We knew HCHC could do our part of the grant, but we were relying on agencies that weren’t completing what they said they could.
Even in the midst of the many issues, the three agencies thought we could re-engineer the grant to fix the problems. We worked together to write a new letter of intent to apply for a grant from Dignity for 2015. Our solution was having a bilingual promotora, a person who would contact people to guide them to all the services, help follow-up for appointments and referrals. At the time, HCHC was also looking for other community partners to potentially write the 2015 Dignity grant with, but with no success. But then, after the letter of intent was submitted with the same partners as in 2014, Dignity rightly asked some pointed questions about why referrals for the 2014 grant were not being completed. They asked for accountability for why things had gone so wrong. At that point, the two other partners back out of the Dignity grant for 2015. This was a devastating blow to our organization for 2015. We anticipated that 20% of our budget would come from the money from this grant. And in view of this set back, we are really looking at a desperate funding issue in 2015. It is likely if we cannot obtain $80,000 in Arizona tax credit for the working poor donations by the end of 2014, we will have to close our doors in 2015.