Patient Stories


Jorge and his wife have six children ages 8 and under. Jorge is the sole wage earner for his family and suffers from seasonal allergies that at times aggravate his asthma so badly that he cannot work. When the condition would become severe, he would go to the local hospital emergency room for treatment and would receive a small stock of allergy medications. The hospital referred Jorge to the Occidental Area Health Center for follow up care. After understanding that he would qualify for the sliding scale program, he began coming in for medical services. The Access Coordinator at the Health Center also helped to enroll Jorge’s three eldest children with the Healthy Kids program, which provides medical and dental coverage for children.


Arturo came into the counseling office feeling suicidal two years ago. He was a 40-year-old man with a history of chronic back pain and social anxiety disorder. He began coming regularly to therapy sessions and slowly a plan was made to help him get “unstuck” from his situation. As with many patients suffering from depression, Arturo had long neglected his medical and dental care. Bob Butler, West County Health Center Director of Mental Health Services, referred Arturo to Dr. Davey to see how his back problems might be addressed. Dr. Davey worked with Arturo, showing him ways to take care of his back and not re-injure himself. He came to understand that, with proper self-care, he could return to work. Arturo was also referred to our dental clinic, eventually easing some discomfort he was having and improving his appearance. Arturo noted that both of these events gave him confidence and made him feel much better about himself. His access to both therapy and medical intervention has helped him overcome the challenges that he faced, and he is now back on his feet.


John has been a patient of the Occidental Area Health Center for many years. John is a west county resident in his late fifties and is diabetic. With the implementation of the Diabetes Management Program, John has begun coming to the Occidental Area Health Center on a regular basis. John has one very specific barrier that is impeding his disease management. John has very few teeth, and by necessity has to eat soft foods. The health educator at Occidental Area Health Center works with him to find foods that are easy to prepare and contain less carbohydrates and sugars for his diabetes. John has been attending the diabetic clinics on a regular basis. This, in conjunction with a more nutritious and consistent diet, has helped John to better manage his diabetes. His providers agree that he has made a marked improvement.


Lana was living in a small trailer in Guerneville and had become reclusive since her partner passed away 3 ½ years ago. She suffered from diabetes and had begun to have severe neurological pain. She developed foot ulcers but was able to manage the ulcers with weekly visits to the Russian River Health Center. Lana’s health was deteriorating rapidly. Lana didn’t want to enter any type of institution as she was afraid of being judged regarding her sexuality. The staff at Russian River Health Center worked hard to help her maintain her independence for as long as possible. In-home support was arranged to provide her assistance 3-4 hours a day. The health care worker also helped her to become more socialized into the community, driving her to the food bank and around town for other errands. Her appearance improved, and her weekly visit to the Health Center was an important social connection. Unfortunately, her medical issues became more complex and she was admitted to Palm Drive Hospital. Although she has moved into a full time nursing facility, she is still seen by a Russian River Health Center provider and hopes to become stable enough to return home again.


Robert was an established patient at the Russian River Health Center and agreed to join the first HIV Self Management group established by Russian River Health Center in 2006. This group had 10 members and met monthly for 8 sessions. Each participant chose a specific issue and worked on an action plan that broke the issue down into how exactly it would be handled. Robert had mobility problems with his neck that were affecting his physical activity. He was a youthful 50 year old who enjoyed volunteering at the local food bank and helping out at the Guerneville Senior Center. For Robert’s targeted health goal, he decided to work on his overall fitness and well being, so he enrolled in a local yoga class. After several months of continual attendance he had gained substantial flexibility and mobility. Robert realized he was not as tired and he began to feel very good about himself and his accomplishments. Yoga had become a part of his lifestyle. At the end of the last session, Robert thanked the group for their support and guidance and stated that the experience had truly changed his life.

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