Mother of three ignores illnesses—until VIM

When Judith Aldana first came to the Volunteers In Medicine Clinic, she had not seen a doctor for more than a year. Judith lost her health insurance when the restaurant she worked for became a franchise and no longer offered health benefits. As a mother of three children aged 15, 13, and 11, she knew she needed to stay healthy. She was already working out three times a week and eating well.

“With not having insurance, you have to make sure you stay healthy because one illness can really hurt,” Judith says. When ill, she self-medicated with over-the-counter medications to avoid doctors’ fees.

Judith sought care for a lingering flu on her first visit to VIM. She was grateful to find VIM because her status as a part-time health care administration student did not provide better access to health care.

By last October, though, Judith started needing naps soon after she arose each morning. She marked it down to the pressures of a busy schedule: mother, college student, and part-time worker with the Office Team.

“I was always tired and took a couple of naps a day,” Judith says. “I thought I was staying up too late or getting up too early. I always brushed it off.”
When she started to feel heart flutters, Judith said she could no longer ignore her symptoms. A visit to the VIM clinic revealed she had severe anemia. She was scheduled for an immediate blood transfusion.

Judith has changed her whole diet, with lots of vitamins, supplements, and foods to counteract her anemia while more investigation into her illness is made. Because VIM has specialists who volunteer, in addition to primary care doctors, Judith can see a cardiologist at the clinic. She says she wants to take care of this, but without VIM, the cost of care would have been prohibitive.
“I would have had to pay out of pocket to see a specialist,” Judith says. “And really, I just don’t know how I could have afforded it at all.”