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mend-heartI know that this sounds like a broken record, but I once again count myself among the unemployed. The sad part is I enjoy having more time to write, but I know that, too, must end when I find another job opportunity.

This isn’t necessarily about that challenge in my life, but one that came up only weeks after I was laid-off. I ended up with unplanned medical expenses, several thousand dollars that I couldn’t afford. Maybe not a huge amount for some folks, but to me it was upsetting. I was left numb, struggling, not knowing what to do. I didn’t know where to turn.

A friend’s daughter worked for the hospital where I had the diagnostic tests and procedures. She heard my story. She started calling around to see who might be able to help me. I was contacted by the hospital’s ‘patient navigator’ who works with breast care patients. That same afternoon, she personally came to my home to bring me paperwork to fill out.

This lovely woman investigated every angle possible, from special grants to financial services. She made phone calls for me, as they are a struggle for me with my voice disorder. We communicated via email, my preferred method. After narrowing things down, she told me where to go and who to see. I filled out financial aid applications, not only at the hospital, but to the radiology group where I also owed money. She sent out the appropriate paperwork. She held my virtual hand through the process, took care of everything, acting as my advocate along the way.

I filled out pages of forms, and provided all manner of proof of my financial situation. I have to admit, once I completed and submitted all the papers, I wasn’t very hopeful.

Thankfully, sometimes life surprises you. In the end my medical expenses were written off, relieving me of the financial stress. Even the wording in the letters the hospital sent, informing me I qualified for financial assistance, showed understanding and compassion for my situation. It was truly an unexpected blessing at a time when it was greatly needed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a positive experience. From the first moment my friend’s daughter started calling around, to contact by the patient navigator, and the final letters sent from the billing departments, I have been touched by the genuine empathy everyone showed me.

Today, hospitals are big business — even when our economy struggles, they seem to be growing. It’s easy to think of their staff as cold and impersonal, too. Yet, some took the time to help someone in need. Even for this writer, it’s hard to find the right words to express how much it was appreciated. So, in the end I simply say, “thank you.”

Oh, and health-wise, all turned out fine. And I’m working on the rest.

~D

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