Health and Dignity
When Loretta first came through the doors of Project HOME’s health clinic, she brought with her a complex blend of issues. As if having asthma, diabetes, and dealing with high blood pressure weren’t enough, she also had to deal with her background of poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Loretta was a resident of Project HOME’s Rowan Homes but in her strained economic situation, she had run out of medication and had no health insurance. “They treated me with compassion and dignity,” she remembers, “they didn’t just give me medicine and push me out the door. And they gave me the resources I needed to really stay healthy, like nutrition classes and a dietician I could talk to.”
Loretta had never experienced health professionals who were committed to treating the whole person, including the stress and struggle that came with her social circumstances—and as much as the medication and healthcare services, she attributes her health improvement to the affirmation and empowerment she received.
A few years later, recognizing the extent of the community’s healthcare needs, Project HOME in partnership with Jefferson’s Family Medicine department—Dr. Lara Weinstein, Dr. Jim Plumb and Dr. Richard Wender and tireless Project HOME leaders including Monica Medina McCurdy, S. Anne Kappler, Janet Stearns, along with philanthropist Stephen Klein and Trustee Glenn Shively – expanded our healthcare services by developing the Stephen Klein Wellness Center, rooted in a vision of patient-first, community-rooted wellness, health education, and trauma-informed healthcare—located in one of the poorest zip codes in the city.
So when the opportunity to work at the Wellness Center as a Community Health Worker presented itself, Loretta jumped at the chance. She recognizes that her role is as critical to promoting quality healthcare as the role of medical professions. As someone rooted in the community, she could convey the spirit of hope and empowerment to others with the unique health challenges related to poverty.
Loretta is committed to the work—which she describes as accompanying people on their journey to health and wholeness—because she knows that, as we can bring healing to our most vulnerable people, our society as a whole is on the way toward healing.