With four children, five grandchildren and a passion for serving the community, Evelyn Nicholson keeps busy and can’t let health issues slow her down. But that hasn’t been easy.
Nicholson copes daily with chronic knee pain and complications from multiple surgeries. She’s struggled with substance abuse for much of her life, contracted Hepatitis C and been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But the biggest blow came when her husband passed away from AIDS. Coping with his death was only part of her burden; three days later, Nicholson learned she also tested positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Dealing with her health issues became a full-time challenge. But when Nicholson visited Chase Brexton Health Care’s Mount Vernon Center, she was amazed by her case manager, Andy Zipay. Zipay explained Chase Brexton’s approach to patient-centered comprehensive care.
“I told her that I would manage all aspects of her care, and connect her with a team of professionals that could help her with all of her health issues,” says Zipay. “More importantly, I explained that all of these providers would be working together to improve her daily life.”
For the past three years, Nicholson has received general medical, mental health, dental, lab and pharmacy services at Chase Brexton.
“Chase Brexton makes it so easy to get the care you need,” says Nicholson. “My providers work together as a team, and they get together to brainstorm about how they can best help me.”
She believes that coming to Chase Brexton caused her to take better overall care of her health.
In her experience, one of the challenges of managing HIV has been using a variety of health providers and facilities. Knowing what’s needed and coordinating care between them is a challenge.
“When I come to Chase Brexton, I can’t hide anything,” says Nicholson. “All my providers talk to one another and when I go in to see one of them, they know what my other providers are doing to treat me. They all know what’s going on and they hold me accountable.”
When it comes to their patients, Chase Brexton providers and case managers look beyond the medical chart. Zipay has referred Nicholson to educational workshops and support groups, provided help accessing health insurance and even provided bus tokens to ensure she wouldn’t miss important appointments.
Nicholson now makes Chase Brexton a family affair, bringing her son and daughter to meet with their own case managers. She’s so passionate about good health that she’s decided to help others learn about HIV and access the care they need. She serves on Chase Brexton’s Patient Advisory Committee and is certified to provide HIV counseling and screenings.
In the future, she hopes to run a shelter for people going through hard times, saying, “I want to help people get back on their feet, find jobs and be happy.” We bet she will.