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

A Phoenix kindergarten teacher was named KTAR News 92.3 FM's Outspoken with Bruce and Gaydos' Pay T...

KTAR.com

Phoenix kindergarten teacher wins Bruce and Gaydos’ teacher tribute for March

A Phoenix kindergarten teacher was named KTAR News 92.3 FM's Outspoken with Bruce and Gaydos' Pay Tribute to a Teacher winner for March, presented by Your Valley Toyota Dealers.

4 hours ago

The closure began after reports alerted authorities of a man climbing the I-10 bridge near 7th Aven...

KTAR.com

WB I-10 lanes reopen, EB lanes still closed after freeway fence climber causes shutdown

A man who climbed the I-10 freeway bridge near 7th Avenue caused a shutdown of both the eastbound and westbound lanes Tuesday night.

4 hours ago

Pedophilic burglar fought mother and father, Phoenix police say...

Serena O'Sullivan

Man accused of breaking into Phoenix home, entering young boy’s room, fighting with parents

The Phoenix Police Department accused 25-year-old Abdullahi Aroni of being a pedophilic burglar in a Tuesday announcement.

5 hours ago

A California woman died Monday after falling down a 140-foot cliff while hiking in Sedona. (Coconin...

KTAR.com

California woman falls to her death down 140-foot cliff while hiking in Sedona

A California woman died Monday after falling down a 140-foot cliff while hiking in Sedona, authorities said.

6 hours ago

(Phoenix Fire Department photo)...

Serena O'Sullivan

Small underground explosion blows out manhole covers in Phoenix

An explosion blew out two manhole covers in Phoenix on Tuesday morning, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

7 hours ago

Gabriel Garcia, 55, was arrested on April 13, 2024. (Tempe Police Photo0...

KTAR.com

Suspect arrested in Tempe hit-and-run that injured pedestrian

A suspect was arrested Saturday in a Tempe hit-and-run that injured a pedestrian earlier this month, authorities said.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Phoenix nonprofit helps homeless get to medical appointments