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Patient Stories

Western Tidewater Free Clinic changes lives. Find out what our patients have to say.

9 Patient Storycrop
With no other place to turn...
Curtis: No other place to turn...

It was 4:00 a.m. Curtis bent slowly to lace up his worn-out tennis shoes and reached for his cane.  He had been awake all night, in nauseating pain from his sore tooth.  With no car, no one to call for a ride, no money for a taxi, and no public bus in Carrsville, Curtis set out on foot to travel the 14 miles to the only place he knew to turn for help.

Five hours later, Curtis arrived at Western Tidewater Free Clinic (WTFC). Leaning heavily on his cane, his shoes in worse shape than they were before and tears in his eyes, Curtis walked in the front door of the Clinic. As a Clinic dental patient, Curtis knew dentist Dr. Rawls would do whatever he could for him.

Two hours later, Curtis’s debilitating mouth pain was gone, along with the offending tooth. Antibiotics were prescribed and filled onsite at WTFC for him, and future medical and dental appointments were scheduled. The Clinic staff even found a pair of shoes for Curtis and a volunteer to give him a ride home, true blessings to his weary body.

As we celebrated our 10th Anniversary last year, we are reminded of our many blessings, especially you, our donors. Your generosity has ensured that our doors were open and our staff and volunteers were ready to provide Curtis hope when he had no other place to turn.

Your support has changed the lives of 5,000 of your neighbors since 2007, at an annual cost of care of about $1,200 per patient. Your continued generosity will ensure we will change more lives for years to come.

Janice Cypress_web (1)
WTFC is a health home.
Janice: Finding a Health Home

What is a Health Home?

Janice from Smithfield knows firsthand - Western Tidewater Free Clinic (WTFC) became Janice’s health home in 2014.

At the age of 49, Janice came to us extremely ill and battling multiple health problems, including diabetes and dangerously high blood pressure. She had been employed, but after suffering two strokes, she lost her job and ultimately her health insurance. Janice had nowhere else to turn and came to WTFC for help.

Immediately, Janice received the necessary medications to reduce the risk of another stroke. She was also quickly enrolled in the Clinic woman’s health program and received a mammogram. Results indicated the need for a biopsy. It took two months for Clinic staff to stabilize Janice’s other health concerns to prepare her for this surgery. Thankfully, this past December, Janice learned her biopsy results were negative and that her blood pressure was improving.

Janice has had nine visits to WTFC in three months and is currently on 10 medications. The next step for Janice is the extraction of several teeth at the WTFC dental clinic. The critical condition of her oral health is directly impacting her overall health, so it is imperative that she receive this dental treatment. The entire Clinic team is providing Janice with coordinated care to ensure her overall condition continues to improve.

Thanks to the support of Clinic donors, referral partners, and volunteers, Janice has received lifesaving medications, diagnostic testing, nutrition education, and dental care. Like so many Clinic patients, she faces multiple barriers to good health including untreated chronic illness, low income, and lack of dependable transportation.  However, Clinic medical providers have enlisted Janice as an active partner in her own health, and her quality of life is being transformed, one visit at a time.

We are grateful to each of you who believe in our Clinic vision – that everyone deserves a health home, offering comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate care. We thank you, Janice thanks you, and 5,000* of your neighbors thank you.

* WTFC has served over 5,000 patients since opening in 2007.

If it were not for the clinic...I would not be here today.
Craig: He fought for his health. We gave him the ammunition.

Craig Teachey’s kind clear eyes belie the physical and emotional trauma that he has endured over the last several years. In 2007, at the age of 42, Craig was diagnosed with an acute case of diverticulitis and hospitalized for three weeks. Ultimately, he required multiple surgeries to deal with his illness and resulting complications.

Craig never fully regained his health and his continued illness eventually cost him his job and his medical insurance. At first COBRA provided the coverage he needed but, with no source of income, this too was soon lost to him. Because of a health issue, for which there is no known cause, Craig Teachey went from healthy and employed to sick and homeless.

In 2009, Craig was introduced to the Clinic by an acquaintance and was able to get regular medications to help stabilize his overall health. However, after a temporary reprieve, his health once again began to deteriorate. A seeping wound from an earlier surgery had become unmanageable and he was gravely ill.

One morning in April 2012, Craig arrived at the Clinic without an appointment and told the front desk staff that if he did not get help he “wasn't going to make it.” He was seen by Clinic staff and immediately sent to Sentara’s Wound Care Center. Craig had a severe infection and once again required surgery.

Post-surgery, Craig was told that he would need care from a home-health nurse to which he responded “I can’t have a home nurse because I have no home.” As a result, Craig became a frequent visitor to WTFC while the staff managed his wound care and follow-up. The Clinic’s nurses and physician worked hand-in-hand with the surgeons that performed Craig’s surgery to ensure that his recovery would not be obstructed by spotty or inconsistent care. They also ensured Craig was able to obtain the medications he required for other chronic illnesses. Through their diligent efforts, Craig’s health finally began to improve.

Today, Craig is employed and is no longer homeless. On his last visit to the Clinic before his new health insurance went into effect, Craig spoke of all he had gone through and, with tears in his eyes, said that if it were not for the Clinic and all the folks that helped him he “would not be here today.” 

The most amazing thing in the world happened to me last year. I came into the Clinic hopeless and physically a mess. Now my life has been completely changed.
Amy: The difference a smile can make

We love to see our patients smile. Unfortunately, when Amy came to see us, she had lost her smile. A host of medical and dental issues including diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and severe periodontal disease had taken their toll. At 32 years old, she rarely smiled, had limited eye contact, and was very tearful at times.

After being stabilized medically, Amy was referred to our dental clinic. Due to the severity of her tooth decay, all of her remaining teeth had to be extracted. Six months later, after multiple extractions and time to allow her gums to heal, Amy received a full set of Larell dentures.

Thanks to the Clinic’s ability to provide this service in-house and at a reduced cost, Amy has her smile back. With her diabetes and blood pressure well under control, we are reminded of the impact the Clinic has on people’s lives. Amy’s smile is in her eyes, her voice, and the way she carries herself and, after several years of unemployment, she has a job!

Sometimes it is hard to believe that this once tearful and shy young woman, plagued with chronic disease, is the same happy, healthy, and self-confident person we see today. But, she is. Good health does make a difference, and we love to see our patients smile!