December 2011 Sentara Community Benefits Report | Sentara Healthcare
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Giving Back: Sentara Community Benefits Report December 2011 

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Prescription drug program helps Norfolk's homeless

NORFOLK, VA (Nov. 15, 2010) – Wanda Thomas was working as an office manager for a tax preparation service when she had a brain aneurysm 18 months ago that not only left her disabled, but also homeless.

 Community Benefits December 2011

 Left to right, Alicia Mathews, Beth Carroll,   Wanda Thomas.

With no insurance and without the ability to work, Thomas fought her way back to recovery after surgery and two-and-a-half months of therapy while living with her sister, a nurse. Thomas had been attending community college, but that had to be put on hold.

In May, Thomas was living in an emergency shelter when she was referred to St. Columba Ecumenical Ministries on Lafayette Boulevard in Norfolk, an organization that works with churches and other organizations to provide a variety of services for the homeless and low-income individuals in the community. Thomas was accepted into the women’s transitional housing program, where she learned about the prescription medication program, partially funded by a $15,000 grant from the Sentara Health Foundation to help homeless people in Norfolk.

Through the program, Thomas was able to get medication for high blood pressure that had contributed to her aneurysm.

"It’s scary to think about what would have happened if it weren’t for this program," Thomas says.
"I may not be sitting here. It has helped a lot."

She says her blood pres­sure was out of control for six years prior to the aneurysm, and she suffered daily headaches, even after her surgery.

Beth Carroll, Thomas’s case manager, says Thomas has made great progress. She is taking placement tests to go back to college and is searching for a job. Thomas’s long-term goal is to operate an assisted living facility and – some day – to own and operate her own senior support facility.

Director of Ministries Alicia Mathews says St. Columba sought Sentara funding last year because the charity ran out of funds midyear for the prescription program. In 2010, the program served 110 individuals before it ran out. This year through September, the program has served 297 people.

"Sentara’s donation will carry us through the end of the year, and we won’t have to tell people ‘no,’" she says. "We will be able to help many more homeless people in Norfolk."

In keeping with our mission to improve the health of Hampton Roads, Sentara touches the community with screenings and health awareness events all year long. From a "Get Pink" house at Homearama to free skin cancer screenings earlier this year, where nearly one in four participants had an abnormal screening – and Wanda Thomas' compelling story – learn more about how we give back to Hampton Roads in our December Community Benefits Report.

Related Links
Sentara Community Benefits
Sentara Community Benefits December 2011 Edition
Sentara Health Foundation
St. Columba Ecumenical Ministries


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