ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix nonprofit helps homeless get to medical appointments

May 20, 2019, 4:31 AM | Updated: May 21, 2019, 8:50 am
(Griselda Zetino/KTAR News)...
(Griselda Zetino/KTAR News)
(Griselda Zetino/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — Sylvestre Primous stopped seeing doctors for several months when he became homeless.

The 71-year-old Vietnam veteran couldn’t get to his medical appointments. It started affecting his health.

It was painful to walk, his stress levels were high and his diabetes was uncontrolled.

“Everything was mentally and physically wearing me down,” he said.

All that changed when he learned about Elaine, a nonprofit formed in February that drives homeless individuals to their medical appointments and helps them navigate the health care system.

The group takes him to his medical appointments several times a month, including to the VA Medical Center in Phoenix where he sees a counselor for his post traumatic stress disorder caused by his military service.

Vivienne Gellert formed Elaine after getting the idea as a premed student at Arizona State University. She said she noticed there was a gap in the numerous services being offered to people experiencing homelessness.

“We are hand holders,” she said. “We help people who are extremely vulnerable and don’t have the easiest time getting to appointments, scheduling appointments, getting prescriptions, refiling prescriptions and connecting to behavioral health services.”

The group has several drivers who pick up homeless individuals as they’re getting released from the hospital. They also drive them from shelters to doctor’s appointments and helps connect them to resources, including housing.

Gallert said the nonprofit is named after Elaine Herzberg, a homeless woman who was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle last year.

“We thought as an organization it was a great way and a really beautiful way to honor her memory and to remind us why we’re here every day,” she said.

Since launching in February, Elaine has served about 90 people. Many of them have gotten a ride to their medical appointments by Michelle Detrick, the transportation director for Elaine.

Detrick said she and Primous, both military veterans, have developed a close bond.

“His health was horrible when I first met him,” she said. “He was unable to take his pills, because he couldn’t get the pill bottles open.

“He was unable to prick his fingers because of his hands and the neuropathy.”

But a lot has changed since Detrick began helping Primous keep track of his medical appointments and medications.

“He’s up and moving more,” she said. “He’s becoming a little bit more self-sufficient and his health is — it’s not perfect but it’s real close.”

Primous said Elaine has gone above and beyond to help him get back on his feet.

Besides helping him navigate the health care system, the nonprofit also has helped him find housing and to care for his service dog, Cheech.

“I couldn’t ask for more, I’m blessed,” he said.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(KTAR News File Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Police say possible gun at Scottsdale school was just computer equipment

The student who reported a possible gunman at a Scottsdale high school last week actually saw somebody carrying computer equipment, police said.
11 hours ago
(City of Mesa Rendering)...
KTAR.com

Mesa breaks ground on northeast public safety facility for police, fire

Mesa officials announced on Monday developers have broken ground on a facility that will house a fire station and police substation.
11 hours ago
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Bid...
KTAR.com

President Joe Biden touring Phoenix chip plant Tuesday, touting economic agenda

President Joe Biden is coming to Phoenix on Tuesday to tour a massive chipmaking plant under construction and tout his economic agenda.
11 hours ago
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

2 found shot inside vehicle parked in Buckeye neighborhood

A man and woman were taken to the hospital Monday night after they were found shot inside a vehicle in the West Valley, authorities said.
11 hours ago
Raymond Rey (Photo via Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Silver Alert issued for Phoenix man missing since end of weekend

A Silver Alert was issued early Tuesday for a missing Phoenix man who has cognitive problems, authorities said.
11 hours ago
(KTAR News Photo/Colton Krolak)...
Colton Krolak

D-backs Winter Classic gives kids clothes, books ahead of holidays

The Diamondbacks on Monday gave back to hundreds of children from elementary schools in the valley as part of the 25th D-backs Winter Classic.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Phoenix nonprofit helps homeless get to medical appointments