Helping Hand

Our Stories

Access to specialty care: From community clinic to hospital for medically necessary treatment

A physician at Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic referred a 60 year old male to Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center (ASLMC) with a diagnosis of "pleural effusion of unknown etiology." The clinic was unable to successfully treat the issue and the patient's condition was worsening rapidly.

At ASLMC the patient was seen by pulmonology and thoracic specialists for a STAT evaluation, delay of which, according to the referring physician, "would likely result in demise."

The patient, a former schoolteacher who had been laid off a few years ago and had been unable to obtain gainful employment since that time, had been working for temp agencies and in other low paying part-time jobs. At the time of admission he was working in a bakery getting only minimal hours at minimum wage with no insurance.

The patient did not meet criteria for BadgerCare or Medicaid and could not afford HIRSP insurance. With the help of the hospital's financial counselor, he applied for Aurora's Helping Hand Patient Financial Assistance Program. His application was approved expeditiously due to the urgent medical need outlined by the referring physician. The patient was approved for a 100% discount and continues to receive the treatment he needs at ASLMC.

- Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center

Homeless in Pell Lake, WI

A 48 year-old unemployed female from Pell Lake presented to the ED at Aurora Medical Center in Summit (AMCS) in serious atrial fibrillation (AF) and was admitted as an inpatient. It was clear she required cardioversion and follow-up care to keep her out of AF.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that causes irregular and unusually rapid beating of the heart. Symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and in some cases, fainting. People with AF are at higher risk for blood clots that can cause stroke. Heart failure also is a risk factor associated with AF.

Some cases of AF are severe enough to require ongoing treatment with medications and/or medical procedures, which was the case for this patient. Clarice, the financial counselor at AMCS who assisted the patient in applying for Aurora's Helping Hand Patient Financial Assistance Program, learned that the woman had been laid off from a company that moved out of state, and more recently she had become homeless and resorted to sleeping in her car at area rest stops. The patient was approved for a 100 percent discount to receive medically necessary care at AMCS. She has begun to live with her father three days a week, and Clarice has been instrumental in leading the patient to additional resources for medications and support.

- Aurora Medical Center in Summit

A fighting chance at recovery in sight

In 2008 he lost his job. In due time he lost his home. As his opportunities and options diminished, he moved in with his father, who provided him with $300 a month in income. All the while a lesion on his face grew worse and finally became frightening. That's when he sought help.

This 53 year old male was diagnosed by a primary care physician with an advancing stage of basal cell carcinoma -- a skin cancer lesion that disfigured and obstructed the upper and lower lids of his left eye. The condition required surgical removal of the lesion and reconstructive skin grafting to save the eye. He was referred to an ophthalmologist at Aurora Medical Center in Summit for further evaluation.

Clarice, the financial counselor, evaluated this gentleman's financial situation and introduced him to Aurora's Helping Hand Patient Financial Assistance Program. He completed the application process and was approved for a 100% discount to receive the surgery and other treatment he needed for a recovery that would give him to have a fighting chance at getting back into the mainstream.

- Aurora Medical Center in Summit

A setback in healing

Healing from sexual assault is difficult enough and can take years. This is the story of a 29 year-old single female who had been sexually assaulted a year prior to her arrival in the Emergency Department at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton (AMCG). She was experiencing seizures and presented with a badly injured arm. The seizures were of greatest concern to the ED physician who ordered an MRI of her brain. But the woman objected, revealing that she was unemployed and therefore reluctant to proceed.

Arica, the financial counselor at AMCG, stepped in to introduce the patient to Aurora's Helping Hand Patient Financial Assistance program. Surprised and grateful, the woman left and returned the next day with her father and the necessary documents to complete the application. Her application was approved and the MRI was completed to identify the structural abnormalities in her brain associated with the cause of her seizures. With this confirming evidence, and Aurora's Helping Hand, she was able to receive kind of medically necessary treatment to address her seizure disorder.

Aurora Medical Center in Grafton

Not a moment too soon

Mr. S. had been struggling to make ends meet without a job or health insurance, and he had serious health problems that were making his tough situation even more stressful.

Julie Thomas, a financial counselor at Aurora St. Luke's South Shore, received a call from a doctor's office and was asked to meet with S.L. He was a 43 year-old male, unemployed, uninsured and without resources, as his unemployment checks had just ended. He was in need of surgery for kidney and lower urinary calculus, which the doctor said needed to be done the next day.

Julie noted, "He was so nervous about the surgery and the cost. He kept repeating, 'I can't afford this.'" Julie explained Aurora's Helping Hand financial assistance program and instructed the patient to return with the documents that were needed for the application and approval, which he did. And the very next day the surgery was performed. The procedure made it evident that he needed two additional procedures done after the first surgery.

Julie noted, "He would call me several times a week checking on the status of his application. He was so thrilled to be approved for 85 percent coverage through the Aurora Helping Hand program."

- Aurora St. Luke's South Shore

In extreme pain

He had extreme pain in his backside, blood in his urine, fever, chills and vomiting -- all signs of a kidney stone. In some cases, kidney stones can constitute an emergency and even be fatal if not treated aggressively.

Such was the case for a 34 year-old uninsured Hartford man who lives with his parents. Holly, a financial counselor at the Aurora Medical Center in Washington County, received a call from one of the urologists at the Aurora Advanced Health Clinic in Hartford. The doctor asked Holly to assist his patient with an application for Aurora's Helping Hand financial assistance program so that he could proceed with surgery the next day to a remove the offending kidney stone.

Holly met with the patient on the same day to provide him with the application. "He was very cooperative," Holly reported. "I gave him the application, he returned it back to me with the required paperwork within a few hours. His application was expedited and approved for 100 percent coverage."

Holly continued, "It was a critical situation because a special order had to be placed for the equipment in order for the doctor to perform the surgery the next day."

- Aurora Medical Center in Washington County

Starting Over

It is never too late to continue furthering your education. Such was the case for a 40 year-old unemployed and uninsured Oshkosh man. His pursuit of a new degree from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh was interrupted when he came to the Emergency Department at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh with serious stomach pain caused by acute appendicitis on the brink of rupture. Emergency surgery was performed, but to make matters worse, further biopsy testing showed that he had spots of cancer located in different parts of his body. The man was stunned!

A financial counselor met with the patient to discuss the financial implications. The counselor explained, "The patient was really worried about his hospital bills because he has no way of paying for them. He has been going in and out of surgery and was confronted with challenging health concerns following each surgery."

The financial counselor worked with the patient to complete an application process for the Aurora Helping Hand financial assistance program. He was approved and able to receive all the care he needed. Three months after he was discharged from the hospital, the patient came back to see the financial counselor to personally express his thanks.

- Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh

At the end of her rope?

Life can be challenging enough when you are unemployed and trying to make it through day by day, but imagine the struggle when a diagnosis of cancer is added to the equation.

One woman, who was unemployed and facing foreclosure on her home, had just sold valuable family memorabilia to try to save her home and also support the family. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with cancer at Aurora West Allis Medical Center. Her doctor ordered tests and procedures that needed to be done as soon as possible.

Through tears she told the financial counselor, "I am at the end of my rope."

The financial counselor guided her through the application process for the Aurora Helping Hand financial assistance program. The patient received wonderful news that she was eligible to receive all the procedures she needed. The financial counselor reflected that, "Just knowing that she had a light at the end of the tunnel, someone helping her and providing her guidance, was at least one less stress in her life. I am so glad we were able to help her concentrate on the most important thing, and that is for her to fight for her life and beat that cancer."

- Aurora West Allis Medical Center

An all-too familiar story

Most people who are uninsured wait too long - until their pain is unbearable. Then they go to the Emergency Department for treatment.

One familiar face to the staff in the ED at Aurora Medical Center of Manitowoc County was admitted four times within several months. That familiar face belonged to a young woman, age 23, whose first ED visit was for dental pain due to lack of oral hygiene - a condition that had progressed into upper respiratory infections and caused her severe difficulty breathing. She was well aware that her medical bills were piling up.

The patient met with a financial counselor and revealed that she was living on her own and working part-time for an employer who does not offer health insurance for part-time employees. Luckily, she enrolled in a government program called Foodshare, which provided food stamps. Her initial thought was to work out a payment plan with the financial counselor. At that point she was encouraged to apply for Aurora's Helping Hand financial assistance program, which provides free or discounted care to those in need. Within weeks, the patient received news that she qualified for coverage for her medical needs through the Aurora Helping Hand Patient Financial Assistance program. In addition, the financial counselor was able to link her with the local One-Stop Job Center case manager to work with her on seeking a full-time job with health benefits.

- Aurora Medical Center of Manitowoc County