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A Winter Coat for Winter Care | Altru

A Winter Coat for Winter Care | Altru

In November 2021, Alex Rose, LBSW, a social worker for Altru Case Management, met with a patient she had been seeing since August. The young woman had moved back to the area after losing a child during pregnancy. Now her partner had lost his job, and she was afraid she was losing hers.

“She told me she was on the verge of selling supplies to buy food, but she also didn’t have a coat that fit—not ideal for a brisk North Dakota winter,” Alex says. “Additionally, she didn’t have the business casual clothes she needed for work. She was worried she would be fired, but she couldn’t afford to go shopping for anything.”

Altru to the Rescue

Alex immediately knew what she needed to do. She told the patient not to sell anything and that she’d be in touch shortly. Then she made a call.

“I called Michelle and explained the situation, and thankfully she took the information and ran with it,” Alex says.

Michelle Earl, BA, RRT, CTTS, is the discharge team and pastoral care supervisor for Altru’s Case Management. She immediately started calling around asking charities if they had coats in the right size but had no luck.

“So, I posted in a Facebook group requesting clothing in her specific size from the Grand Forks Moms community,” Michelle says. “While no one had a jacket in her size, I had about $200 in my Venmo from friends within an hour to help support this patient in need.”

Michelle hit Target, Old Navy and JCPenney to get gloves, a hat, a coat, boots and a professional outfit for work. Friends and Facebook moms also donated boxes of dress clothes, jeans and dresses.

“I was so blown away by the clothing donations that I received,” Michelle says. “There was almost a completely new wardrobe for this patient.”

Meanwhile, Alex rounded up support from Altru’s Family Medicine Residency team and received donations to purchase gift cards for food and household essentials.

“Within days, my office was full of generous donations of all kinds,” Alex says. “When we finally presented everything to the patient, her reaction was priceless. And that feeling is the reason that many of us go into this line of work.”

Social Work Matters

As this and so many other Altru patient situations have shown, it can be hard for patients to treat their mental and physical health issues when they are facing financial instability.

“Setting patients up for success can simply start by exploring whether their basic needs are met,” Alex says. That’s why the case management team at Altru works hard to deliver holistic care, going above and beyond traditional medical care.

“We have to look at a person as a whole, and that includes things like housing stability, mental health, transportation needs and food insecurity,” Michelle says.

“It’s difficult for someone who has food and transportation insecurity to have overall wellness.”

Find out how the Altru social work team can help you or someone you love with support services.