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Amber's story

I feel so down, and I don't know how to pick myself back up.

Amber*, an AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia member, felt terribly lost. She and her 5 children, ages 1 to 8, were homeless, finding shelter in a rundown hotel in an area surrounded mostly by fast food chains. There was not a single grocery store in the vicinity, and Amber did not have access to the nutritious foods she needed to feed her growing children.

Her family also lacked access to transportation. Amber didn't own a car and there was not a reliable bus route close enough to the hotel for them to travel anywhere outside the immediate vicinity of their temporary home.

Amid the uncertainty of how long they could stay at the hotel and where Amber would find her family's next meal, Amber visited her doctor, believing she was in the early stages of a new pregnancy. During her checkup, the doctor noticed something terribly wrong and referred her to a local hospital for further testing. At the hospital, Amber was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and, after further tests, was also diagnosed with brain cancer.

Members of Amber's AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia care team — including Tamika, Amber's Care Coach, and Marta, her Community Outreach Representative — rushed to her side after being alerted of her hospital admission. Wiping tears from her eyes, Amber told her care team the latest news and asked for help finding a phone so she could make appointments with her doctors and manage her cancer treatments. But the team knew she would need more than a phone to meet her growing needs.

When Amber was discharged from the hospital, Tamika and Marta worked to collect and organize everything Amber and her family needed.

In addition to getting the phone she requested, they enrolled Amber and her children in the Mom's Meals® program to provide proper nutrition for a healthy recovery and nutritious meals her children needed to grow strong and healthy. They also worked to schedule transportation to and from her treatments and doctors' appointments and found Amber a wig after she expressed the anxiety she had after losing most of her hair, even before treatment began.

Tamika and Marta then leveraged ever-important community partnerships to identify adequate housing for Amber and her family. The team at AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia contacted The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless to identify a lawyer to assist in getting Amber interim-disability assistance and pushed for an expedited review of her housing voucher.

Amber and her children were promptly approved for a 4-bedroom home through Shelter Plus Care, an organization designed to provide shelter and supportive services for homeless individuals living with dual diagnoses.

"She is doing much better," said Marta. "Whenever she needs something now, she reaches right out. We've helped connect her to many resources she needed, like emergency clothing and other necessities. She now has what she needs to focus on her health."

But the focus on health is a family affair. Amber's children are also members of the health plan, each with a Care Coach to help them reach their health goals, while helping them make appointments to get annual physicals and ensure safe transportation options. The team at AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia feels like they are now part of Amber's family, and are excited to watch them learn and grow.

* Member's name has been changed.