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.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

Andrew Ormsby, 22, was arrested on Wednesday, police said. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photo)...

KTAR.com

Phoenix police arrest man accused of fatally shooting victim found in West Valley alley

Andrew Ormsby, 22, was arrested on Wednesday for his involvement in the shooting death of Roy Orozco, 24, Phoenix police said.

4 hours ago

Guests mill about at a previous Guild Indian Fair & Market on the grounds of the Heard Museum in Ph...

KTAR.com

Heard Museum in Phoenix holding 66th annual Guild Indian Fair & Market this weekend

The Heard Museum in Phoenix is holding its signature event this weekend, the 66th annual Guild Indian Fair & Market.

5 hours ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

7 hours ago

FILE - A group of migrants walk along the border in a remote part of the Arizona desert as they joi...

Associated Press

Bill in Arizona would punish migrants who enter country illegally

Republicans in Arizona are broadcasting a tough border stance with legislation aimed at punishing migrants who enter the United States illegally.

8 hours ago

Mugshot of Brandie Gotch, who faces multiple charges for an alleged rampage against children at a P...

Kevin Stone

West Valley mom accused of driving through park, injuring a child, while her kids were in truck

A woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly driving her pickup truck through a West Valley park and hitting a child after she thought her kids were being bullied.

11 hours ago

Three former Arizona Department of Education employees are accused of obtaining funds from the stat...

KTAR.com

Former Arizona education employees accused of stealing money from ESA program

Three former Arizona Department of Education employees are accused of obtaining funds from the state's school voucher program for personal use, authorities announced Thursday.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Phoenix nonprofit helps homeless get to medical appointments