Stories of Impact: Carl's
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and intensified hardship for many who were already struggling. Before the pandemic, 39% of Virginia households were already unable to make ends meet. This includes households with income below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and households who are ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn too much to qualify as “poor” with incomes above the FPL, but are still unable to cover all of their basic household expenses. ALICE individuals and families face tough choices when they do not have enough income or assistance to afford all their basic necessities.
In rural Virginia, Carl has been working hard milking cows twice a day, seven days a week for years. While he doesn't complain, the work has taken a toll on his body. When he arrived at the Brock Hughes Medical Center located in Wytheville, he was recovering from a stroke and suffering from hypertension, chronic pain and depression. These conditions require medication and continual monitoring, which he was able to receive at his local free clinic which became his medical home. He's been a patient with Brock Hughes Medical Center since 2016 where the clinic's on-site pharmacy has helped him access costly medications needed to manage his chronic conditions. Additionally, Carl is unable to read or navigate electronics, so the staff and volunteers at the Brock Hughes Medical Center have assisted him in applying for other services that address his social determinants of health.
Without his local free clinic, Carl would not be able to receive treatment for his chronic and acute issues as he is ineligible for Medicaid (his FPL is over the eligibility limit), he cannot afford private health insurance on his income, and employer-provided insurance is not an option in his line of work. It would be easy for him to quit his job, which is physically demanding, and then he would be eligible but he prefers to earn his own way. Carl's story is similar to many others who depend on the healthcare safety net to receive the care they need and avoid healthcare crises.