Her husband was a dialysis patient…

Story of Hope

Her husband was a dialysis patient who was scheduled for a kidney transplant. The operation was at U.C. San Francisco Medical Center in several weeks, and the couple didn’t have transportation from their home in Brentwood for the surgery or for pre- or post-op evaluations. The woman revealed, after some hesitation, that they hadn’t traveled farther than Antioch in 20 years.

Our 211 call specialist looked up bus and BART information and started presenting public transit options to her. The woman stopped him, saying that she had trouble reading signs. It took a few more minutes for our call specialist to realize that neither the woman nor her husband, both of whom were Spanish speaking, could read, in Spanish or in English. He asked her if she had a relative or friend who could help. She said that the closest person was her brother-in-law, who lived three-and-a-half hours away and didn’t have a car.

Our 211 call specialist asked for and obtained permission to advocate on behalf of the couple. Over the next two weeks he contacted their social worker, as well as several community-based agencies. What he learned is that transportation is a common problem for dialysis patients who are being treated in another county.

Feeling like he’d run out of options, our call specialist remembered a Spanish-speaking case manager at Catholic Charities in Concord whom he’d worked with a year earlier and who had told him to call her if he ever needed help. When he phoned her, she put him in touch with a group called the Good Samaritans, affiliated with St. Mary’s Church in Walnut Creek. A volunteer with the group who spoke Spanish said that he’d be glad to transport the couple from their home in Brentwood to San Francisco, not only for the husband’s surgery but for all of his appointments. Moreover, the volunteer said that he’d be willing to assist other community members who needed his help.

As a result of one call to 211, the couple had a solution to their problem. In addition, we learned about a new and valuable resource in the community.