‘I’ve got to take care of myself — because Cone Health is taking care of me.’
Bwana Lloyd overcomes homelessness and finds a bridge to better health.
In the midst of the pandemic, Bwana Lloyd lost her job as a hairdresser, ended her engagement and found herself without a place to call home. A borderline diabetic with mental health issues, she faced serious health challenges — and no regular care to mitigate them.
“When you don’t have health insurance, you don’t go to the doctor. You go to the emergency room when your health is in its worst stage,” Bwana says. “I wanted routine care and follow ups, but cost-of-care is pricey for someone in my situation.”
At her last Emergency Department visit, she was referred to the Cone Health-managed Rockingham County Care Connect program. “I left my first appointment feeling like I was somebody worth caring for,” she says. “It’s a relief to know that Cone Health cares as much about my blood pressure as a CEO’s.”
Thanks to Care Connect, the Annie Penn Foundation, the Free Clinic of Rockingham County and others, Bwana now has access to the free preventive, routine care she needs to stay healthy. In the last several months, Bwana has received a mammogram scholarship from the Annie Penn Foundation, taken her flu shot, consulted with social workers, obtained assistance for prescription medications, and arranged vision and foot exams as part of ongoing diabetes-related care.
And now, she’s back home, in her own apartment. Homeless no more.
“Bwana has really been willing to do her part to seek the care she needs,” says Patricia Gilley, RN, a Cone Health nurse and case manager who works with Care Connect. “You’ve got to take care of someone’s mind, body and spirit, and as Bwana knows, getting help is a two-way street that takes effort.”
“You can’t take the help you receive for granted. You have to show up and do your part,” Bwana adds. “I gotta take care of myself — because Cone Health is taking care of me. Now I don’t have so much stress. I am able to focus more on the other parts of my well being that are not medical, like managing money and making better choices for my dietary needs.”
Being back in her own apartment means she can prepare her own food and make sure it’s nutritious — one of many steps she’s taking to become stronger and healthier.
“Depression runs in my family, but no one told me how to deal with it when it happened to me,” Bwana says. “Cone Health showed me the steps and walked with me through them. I want to live. I want to be pain free and depression free and get back to the person I was when I had a great job and my own insurance.”
For Bwana, her journey won’t be complete until she has helped someone along in theirs.
“I have the tools now to help someone else. I want to be a pathway, a bridge, for people who think they can’t get health care. I want my life to grow into something beautiful and meaningful by showing them how to get the resources they need. And I want to eventually not have to use the Annie Penn Foundation and remove myself from it so that somebody else can use those funds.”
According to Stokes Ann Hunt, RN, director of the Annie Penn Foundation, patients benefited from more than 200 mammograms this past year. “Our board of directors are thrilled to assist our local residents and care for our community,” she says. “I am proud of the resources we have in Rockingham County to provide preventive care for the most vulnerable in our community.”