The man is a little gruff and he looks like he has had a wide range of experiences in his life. One day, he comes into Patchwork’s main office and tells Shawn and me, “The Doc paid my health insurance bill for the rest of the year. I just about cried.” Underneath the gruffness, we can tell that he is deeply grateful.
He is referring to John Rich. We’ve corrected the man before, explaining that John is a nurse, not a doctor, but the man likes referring to John as “The Doc.” Lately, John has been helping the man get his health care sorted out.
The man is homeless and sustained a traumatic brain injury in a serious accident a few years ago. As a result, things that might sound simple become very complicated. The man’s health insurance bill was only a few dollars—one a month for the past few months. But, he’d missed payments because the health insurance company couldn’t contact him because he doesn’t have a permanent address and has very limited phone service. Because of the traumatic brain injury, he has poor short term memory, so he forgot that he made appointments and forgot that he needed to follow up with his insurance company. He tried to write himself reminders, but they were quickly lost because he is homeless and did not have a permanent place to put them.
Because he’d failed to pay the few dollars that he owed his health insurance company, his health insurance was suspended. He needed health care, but couldn’t get it. John could remove the barrier that those few dollars represented, so he did.
The man tells Shawn and me that he was so surprised that John was willing to pay the bill for him. He says all he could do in return was to thank John. He says John’s response was simply, “That’s OK. Just take care of some of your medical stuff.”
And he did. The man made a doctor’s appointment for himself, and our Health Ministry will help see that he gets to it.