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Faces of Michigan Health Centers: Lori Heiler
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Lori Heiler

Consumer Board Member
Center for Family Health
Jackson
, MI


My name is Lori Heiler, and I am a patient and board member at the Center for Family Health.

 

In 1992 I started my career with the State of Michigan as a Corrections Officer. I had the best health-care insurance money could buy as a fringe benefit. In 1995, I became of a victim of domestic violence. My boyfriend stabbed me over 40 times with 5 serrated knives and a meat fork. Then he stood in front of a train and committed suicide. Given my extensive injuries, my doctors recommended that I utilize Long Term Disability. The first 6 months my employer provided me with health care at no cost.

 

In those first 6 months I was given shock therapy to try and wake up the nerves in my right hand and arm with no improvement. I was sent to U of M to see if there was something they could do to help me. The doctors determined that a major nerve had been severed in my upper right arm. They had to use a nerve from my lower part of my arm to repair it. I wore a cast for 8 weeks and did Physical Therapy for 6 months, and then I was finally able to bend my first finger. Overall, I spent 22 months in rehab for my physical and emotional injuries.

 

Thirty days before my disability benefits were to run out and I was in danger of losing my seniority, I was able to obtain a job with the State as a secretary where I worked for seven years. Two things then happened that once again altered the course of my life. Because of the type of work I was doing, I ended up with carpal tunnel in both of my hands. At about the same time, more than 7,800 state employees took early retirement and those positions were not filled. That meant a heavy workload for those of us who remained. Unfortunately, the pace and quantity of the work made my carpal tunnel and other injuries flare up, making my work almost impossible.

 

After 2 carpal tunnel surgeries on my right hand failed, the doctors didn't want to attempt it on my left hand. I was forced to pursue disability, which I obtained. These benefits help to keep food on my table but provide no health-care insurance coverage.

 

One day, I ran into my friend Vicki Christoff, a registered nurse at the Center for Family Health, and shared with her my health-related problems and concerns. She took the information and on my behalf set up an appointment for me to begin receiving medical care here. On my first visit I applied for the Center's sliding discount, called Health Pay. I qualified and have been receiving affordable and comprehensive services from the Center since then. What a blessing that was for me!

 

When the Center needed a board member who also receives services from the Center, I didn't hesitate, as I wanted to give back. I am a Consumer Board Member and proud to say that I represent our patient population. I believe that I have something to do with how responsive we are to our patient population.

 

 

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