Katie.jpg
Artist Nancie Richers

On the phone, Katie sounded tearful and confused.  She had not finished high school and was not equipped to understand when her boyfriend, Bob, came down sick. Katie called Family Health Care at her brother’s suggestion, but Bob couldn’t come to an appointment. Bob had become too weak to go up and down the stairs, the visiting nurses refused to go see him because there had been drug dealing in the stairwells. She really needed help.
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Listening to the description of what Bob was going through, I scheduled a home visit that evening. I pulled up in front of a drab storefront with a hand printed for rent sign. The side door led up a narrow, dingy flight of stairs to a long hall that ended with a door standing open to a bathroom. A row of doors labeled with numbers helped me find the apartment.  
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Katie, with long dark hair and threadbare clothes, opened the door and let me in. The couple had two rooms. A sink, stove and table with two chairs were in one room and a bed and arm chair in the other. Bob lay on the bed in the second room. Their bright-eyed two-year-old, Ruthie, sat quietly on the chair in the corner.  
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Bob was almost skeletal in appearance and whispered, “Hey, Doc.” He was too weak to make it down the hall to the shared bathroom. A medical history added little to the initial picture of end-stage AIDS. It turned out there was little that could be done medically for Bob.  
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Family Health Care provided a commode, some food and medicines and regular home visits to provide comfort to Bob and support Katie. Just as Bob died, Katie herself became sick. She tested positive for HIV.  During the next several weeks, Katie struggled to cope with her loss of Bob and the discovery of her illness. Family Health Care stood by her, providing medical care and compassionate support. Katie learned about HIV and the importance of taking her medicines properly through FHC’s HIV University. She started on treatment for HIV.  Seventeen years later, Katie is doing well. Her virus is controlled because she understands about the disease and how the medications keep her well. She learned to take care of herself through the services at Family Health Care. 
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Family Health Care also provides care for Bob and Katie’s daughter, Ruthie. I delivered her baby boy, Bob’s grandson, in 2013. When I see Katie or Ruthie at the local store they call out, "Hey, Doc!" and I remember Bob.
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The phone at Family Health Care rings most days with similar stories. Staff members answer the phone and meet the needs of those in our community who often have nowhere where else to turn.

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