Navigating a Path to Self-Sufficiency: Health Guardians

Michael Francis dribbles a basketball across a freshly painted court at Ciara Independent Housing on Dante Street in New Orleans. Michael recently helped the residents map out and paint the boundary lines of this new court. Once ailing and homeless on the streets of New Orleans, Michael stands proud and healthy with a bright outlook on the future after being connected with Catholic Charities Health Guardians.

‘I had worked all my life. I had never dreamed that I would be homeless. Never,’ Michael said.

He was working as a building engineer when he was diagnosed with a congestive heart condition that found him seeking care in the local emergency room more often than not. Due to his deteriorating health, he lost his job. Unable to pay his rent and his bills, he eventually found himself sleeping on a bench on Canal Street.

With the help of social workers at the hospital, Michael was connected with the Health Guardians staff at Catholic Charities. Health Guardians is a new model of care for those with chronic medical issues. Patient Navigators help clients understand, access and manage their health care, while also providing them full-circle case management and support. Health Guardians gave Michael a place to stay, clothing and helped get him medicine for his heart.

‘You can’t explain it, it’s like you’re being saved. These people actually saved my life,’ said Michael.

Michael now has an apartment of his own and looks for ways he can give back to his community
and help others who might be struggling like he did. “Homelessness can happen to anybody,”  he said.

Through Heath Guardians, Catholic Charities is working to ensure that others like Michael have
the support and the resources they need to manage their healthcare and get back to a state of selfsufficiency and stability.
Michael said, “When I say if it weren’t for the Health Guardians I wouldn’t be here today, I mean