Our patients inspire the care and service we provide, the dedication of our staff, and our commitment to creating healthy families and strong communities. Every year, we see thousands of patients who come to us because they are sick, need support or want a caring person to listen to their needs. We are happy to fill this important gap in the communities we serve. We are proud to introduce you to a few of our many valued patients below and we encourage you to share your story.
Keith Vailliencourt of Sandstone Township is a gold-medal-winning Special Olympian who overcame a mental disability and many health challenges to graduate high school, hold a job, and take college classes. In his 40s, he also overcame the loss of his teeth, with help from the Center for Family Health.
From childhood, Keith took many antibiotics, causing severe tooth decay. One tooth infection was so bad he was sent to the hospital. When asked why he did not mention his toothache sooner, Keith said, “I hoped it would go away.”
Keith receives medical care from the Center for Family Health, and few years ago he was referred to the Center’s dental clinic for evaluation. Dentists realized that saving his 10 remaining teeth was hopeless, so all 10 were extracted in 2012.
Keith’s family intended to buy dentures, but could not afford the cost. That's when dentists at the Center stepped forward to provide dentures at a discounted price under the HealthPay plan.
When his dentures came, Keith quickly updated his Facebook photo to show off his new teeth. “They’re really nice there,” he said of the Center for Family Health. “They really care about people.”
Camie Brown was a 14-year-old student at the Middle School at Parkside when poor behavior caused her to be referred to counseling with a social worker at the Center for Family Health’s Parkside Health Center.
“Camie got into so much trouble at school that for a while it seemed the principal’s office called every other day,” said Camie’s mother, Lisa. “Her behavior was bad, but I knew school was not Camie’s real problem.”
Her real problem, the mother said, was a court order for visitation that forced Camie to reestablish a relationship with her biological father. She was angry about that, and did not handle her anger well.
Camie started weekly counseling session at the Parkside Health Center, and it helped greatly. “They’re nice there,” Camie said. “Miss Jeannine (her counselor) listens to me, takes a lot of notes, and then she gives me solutions at the end of the session. She gives me ideas on how to settle problems.”
Camie’s behavior in school is much better, and now she has counseling once a month instead of once a week.
“I’m not rude anymore,” Camie said. “I feel better in lots of ways.”
Felicia Parris started receiving medical care at the Center for Family Health in 2001, shortly after she graduated from Jackson High School. She was no longer covered by her mom’s health insurance, and a friend told her about the Center. A few years ago, Felicia wasn’t feeling well (she later was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma). She saw a physician assistant about her symptoms.
“She was really concerned. She wanted to know what my issue was.”
Felicia’s symptoms started getting worse. She said she was scared so she missed an appointment. When Felicia finally went into see her provider, she told her: “You kept me up a couple of nights.”
That was the moment Felicia said she was hooked on the Center.
“For her to take that home with her, that really stuck with me,” she said. “The Center has awesome doctors. They really do care.”
Felicia was referred to an oncologist at the University of Michigan to be treated for stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Center staff helped her qualify for Medicaid. Today, after chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant, Felicia is “feeling awesome.” Her scans are still clear of Hodgkin’s. “The community is really blessed to have the Center for Family Health,” she said.
When Ted Briningstool Jr. was downsized out of his job about six years ago, he was devastated. His family’s economic underpinnings were demolished, and their health insurance was gone. The loss of health insurance hit Ted particularly hard; he grapples with high blood pressure and kidney stones.
He stopped taking his blood-pressure pills. Thankfully, he made an appointment at the Center for Family Health and learned he was eligible for a big discount on his care and prescriptions.
The doctors focused on getting his high blood pressure under control. Ted got a part-time job as a nurse’s aide and custodian, and completed Baker College’s medical assistant program.
Then on March 25, 2012, Ted and his family received a life-altering blow. Two of his three sons were involved in a horrific car accident. His 20-year-old son Dylan and Dylan’s girlfriend Icy were killed. Aaron, 18, was critically injured.
“You have hopes, dreams, expectations and that all ends,” he said.
Ted and his family turned to the Center for Family Health for grief counseling. Today, he is looking for a medical-assistant job and is thankful for the Center.
“The Center has helped me get back on track in my life.”
Kathi Ames became a licensed practical nurse so she could help people.
For years, she assisted physicians with colonoscopies and other scopes. She loved her job and her patients. Unfortunately, she needed to stand to do her job and her knees were riddled with advancing arthritis.
Eventually, the pain forced Kathi to leave her job. For 18 months, she paid for her health insurance until her savings ran out. Kathi had had open-heart surgery, and she has a bleeding disorder that causes her blood to create unnecessary clots. She needed medications and lab tests, but she was unable to afford them.
Two years ago, a friend recommended the Center for Family Health. Apprehensive, a tearful Kathi went to her first appointment with a nurse practitioner. It started her down a remarkable path.
Her knees continued deteriorating. It was painful all the time, and she had to start using a walker. The meds no longer worked. Center staff helped her get Social Security disability, and found a surgeon who agreed to do Kathi’s knee replacements – even though she couldn’t afford them.
“That’s the way they do health care” at the Center for Family Health, Kathi said. “Everyone tries to do their very best. They care about patients. It’s not just a job.”
Lori Heiler’s journey to the Center for Family Health began in 1995 when she was a victim of domestic violence.
Her boyfriend stabbed her more than 40 times with five serrated knives and a meat fork. Then he stood in front of a train and committed suicide.
A corrections officer with the State of Michigan, Lori had health insurance as part of her employment. She had numerous surgeries and spent 22 months in rehab for her physical and emotional injuries.
After a stint on disability, Lori took a secretarial job with the state. Seven years later, she had carpal tunnel in both hands. She had two unsuccessful surgeries to correct it, and again sought disability. Lori still had numerous health issues but was without health-care insurance.
Fortunately, a friend told her she could receive low-cost, comprehensive medical care at the Center for Family Health. During her first visit, she learned that she qualified for HealthPay, the Center’s sliding discount program.
“What a blessing that was for me,” Lori said.
Today, she is a member of the Center’s board of directors, representing the patient population.
“I believe I have something to do with how responsive we are to our patient population.”
Suzi Finch began her relationship with the Center for Family Health when her grandson fathered a child at 15.
Suzi and her husband had custody of the teen so they were immediately drawn into the challenges teen parents face. The grandparents and great-grandparents tried to help the two teens who were trying to balance a baby, school and work.
Suzi’s great-grandson Ryan became a pediatric patient at the Center. He was a normal, energetic toddler, but he suffered from asthma. Behavioral issues started manifesting shortly before he started school. Since Ryan was often in their care, Suzi and her husband became very familiar with the Center.
“What a blessing to know whom we could turn to and count on when Ryan needed medical attention,” Suzi said.
Dr. Ghali’s friendly, reassuring manner was a comfort for Ryan and his great-grandparents.
Over time, Ryan’s behavior improved and his asthma is under control.
“We’re proud he’s doing well in school and is a joy to have at home,” she said. “Thanks to the Center and Dr. Ghali, our family has been guided and enriched to provide for Ryan’s ‘growing up.’”