Moving In and Forward with Health Guardians

When the new Health Guardians Patient Navigator, Liam Fitzgerald, began working at the Low-Barrier Shelter in January, one of his first clients enrolled was Cyle. Having worked for the shelter before coming to Catholic Charities, he understood some of the health problems that Cyle was facing. First and foremost, Cyle needed pre-natal care, as she was almost 5 months pregnant and had not yet seen an OBGYN. Her many months on the street required that she focus on making it through another day and didn’t leave her with the time, energy, or resources to do much else.

Her case manager at the Rebuild Center was able to secure a bed for Cyle at the Low-Barrier Shelter. Not long after that, Health Guardians linked up with Cyle and helped set up her first pre-natal appointment. Health Guardians accompanied her to her twice-monthly appointments at Tulane Medical Center down the street from the shelter. At Tulane, she also received assistance with her primary care needs, such as treatment for her seizure disorder, peptic ulcer, and chronic back pain. Health Guardians was able to secure a referral to a neurologist for closer examination of her seizures and paid for her ulcer medication, which her Medicaid would not cover.

Knowing that Cyle would not be able to keep the baby with her at the shelter, Health Guardians worked closely with her case manager at the Rebuild Center and the staff at the Low-Barrier Shelter to ensure that she received a housing voucher from UNITY of Greater New Orleans before the baby came. Health Guardians’ Licensed Social Worker at Healthcare for the Homeless completed the necessary assessments, and by the end of March she had secured her voucher. With her due date of May 4th approaching and with the threat of coronavirus growing, Health Guardians ensured that Cyle received the medical care she needed, and also made a plan for what she should do should she go into labor.

Health Guardians, August 2020 newsletter

Unfortunately, Cyle was forced to implement that plan much sooner than anticipated. Health Guardians called Cyle a cab to Touro Infirmary when she began having contractions on April 1st. Over the weekend, Health Guardians stayed in touch with Cyle and learned that, sadly, her son Dakota did not survive childbirth. Cyle suffered the loss of her child, and faced serious medical issues of her own. On top of the C-section that Cyle underwent, she had two additional stomach surgeries during her week-long stay at Touro. Despite the pain she was feeling and the slow pace of securing housing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cyle remained strong and steadily worked towards obtaining an apartment.

During her remaining time at the shelter, Health Guardians continued to assist Cyle in her recovery. Securing the resources to have her son cremated was of the utmost importance to her, and Health Guardians was able to do so through Savannah Smiles, an agency devoted to funding the burial costs of children whose families cannot pay themselves. On June 11th Cyle moved into a place of her own. Health Guardians has stayed in touch with Cyle, and she ceaselessly thanks them every time they’re in touch.