For the majority of his life, Rob has not known consistency. Growing up in an unstable home, he bounced through group homes eventually landing on the streets when he was 15. For Rob, having access to quality health care is the key element in changing his life.
At a young age, while playing basketball, Rob took an elbow to the head and began experiencing loss of vision and dizziness. He was later diagnosed with a pituitary tumor and began surgery to remove it. After two procedures resulting in remission of the tumor, five years ago it recurred and symptoms began affecting Rob’s health. “I was frustrated because the doctors wouldn’t, or couldn’t, give me answers.”
Six years ago, Pete met Rob while he was living in a tent at a homeless camp. “While I was working at my previous employment, I began working with Rob. During that time, Rob mentioned some health issues, but wasn’t open to engaging in treatment.” As Pete transitioned into his new role as Community Health Worker with Charles Drew Health Center, Inc., he began to see Rob around the shelter on a frequent basis. “I would see him all the time and for a long time he wouldn’t talk to me. I would say hi to him as I saw him around campus, but he would sort of brush me off. No one, including myself was able to make an ongoing connection with him. Until the symptoms from his tumor began to get worse.” After meeting Pete one-on-one, and connecting him to his previous role, Rob began to trust and open up.
After Rob chose Charles Drew as his primary care provider and created a routine of consistent appointments, the duo took steps to secure disability benefits and Medicaid. For Rob, “it’s easier to come see the doctor here, than it is to try to schedule an appointment somewhere else.” With Pete by his side, Rob has been able to access providers outside his primary care to address specific health problems, such as sleep apnea and thyroid issues, in addition to his tumor. For Pete, this access has made a life changing difference in Rob’s life. “It makes me proud when I see him trusting doctors and keeping appointments while getting positive results.”
Today, Rob is striving not only to improve and advocate for his health, but also to secure a permanent home. The two are working to qualify Rob for assisted living. However, for Rob, “Charles Drew is the spot where everyone goes. It’s the home away from home for some of us.”