Working as the caregiver for a family’s two small children, Carolie knew that she herself needed care. During her visit to a nearby clinic, a doctor found nothing wrong with her throat.
Over the next months, swallowing became more difficult. The glands in her neck and behind her ears were painful and swollen. Nasal congestion interfered with sleep and her ability to smell or taste food. Her chest felt congested, and she eventually could only breathe through her mouth. Exhausted and worried about her health and job, Carolie considered going back to the clinic she had previously visited. Fortunately, a concerned friend suggested that she call Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center instead.
Dr. Frances Baxley, medical director at Erie HealthReach Waukegan, knew Carolie would need further diagnosis, and her lack of health insurance would be a major concern. She referred Carolie to a specialist at Northwestern Medicine under their financial assistance program for low-income, uninsured patients. Meanwhile, Erie navigators helped Carolie apply for Medicaid benefits to help cover follow-up and ongoing care at Erie.
After a referral for biopsy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Carolie was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting lungs and lymph glands and causing chronic disability when left untreated. Symptoms can be controlled through medication and good health practices, including nutrition. Dr. Baxley referred Carolie for treatment to a pulmonologist at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. She also provided nutritional guidance to help Carolie achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Carolie was relieved that she finally had a diagnosis, and grateful that it was something she could live with and control. With Dr. Baxley’s care and proper medication, the pain, swelling and congestion were gone within months. She was breathing, eating and sleeping normally. She soon regained energy and
was able to return to her job, attend family events, and spend more time with her two daughters.
Carolie’s experience has been a turning point in her life. “It’s such a relief to finally have my own doctor, and she is a blessing,” she says. “And I have made sure my daughters are Dr. Baxley’s patients, too.”