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A heart full of gratitude

Patient gets help from Stephen Center and OneWorld to control chronic health conditions

Clinician and Health Assistant stand with patient in exam room.

Cody Thorson, PA-C, and Priscilla Birdsley, Health Assistant, with Joe.

When Joe walked into the Stephen Center in January of 2023, he had spent his last $3 on a bus ticket hoping to get some help. The staff told Joe there was a bed available for him, making him break down.

Joe had spent the last of his money traveling from Los Angeles, California, to Omaha, Nebraska. He became homeless in October 2022, and an acquaintance offered to help him in Omaha. But when Joe got to Omaha, the phone number he had for his acquaintance was disconnected.

“I had been staying by the train station for three nights,” said Joe. “It was so cold, I could hardly walk and wasn’t sure I would make it another night. I was able to do a search on my phone and found the Stephen Center, and I believe that was God answering my prayers for help.”

Due to Joe’s living situation, he was unable to get medical care while he was homeless. Joe has Type 2 diabetes amongst other chronic conditions.

After an interview with the Stephen Center staff, Joe was referred to the OneWorld clinic located at the Stephen Center clinic to help reestablish his medical care.

“Joe’s A1c was 13.1, and he had several other abnormalities in his blood work, so we immediately started him back on his medication,” said Physician Assistant, Cody Thorson, PA-C. “We did what we could do at the time for his immediate needs and then started working on a long-term plan.”

In the meantime, Lolita, a Stephen Center staff member, helped Joe apply for Nebraska Medicaid. Joe also worked with the OneWorld Diabetes Education team to get a Continuous Glucose Monitor.

Thorson began to see Joe every 3-4 weeks, and connected him to the podiatry team at Nebraska Medicine. Joe had developed an infection in his toe as a result of his diabetes. He had two toes amputated, but was able to save his foot because he started taking medication and monitoring his diabetes.

By June, Joe’s A1c was at 6.1, which is a benchmark for having control of your diabetes.

“Joe has done a tremendous job controlling his chronic health conditions,” said Thorson. “We are happy that we are able to help Joe and other patients in similar situations at our clinic.”

Clinician talking to patient in exam room

Joe visits with Thorson during an appointment.

The OneWorld Stephen Center clinic officially opened in December 2022. Since opening, the team has provided family medicine services to over 200 patients. The clinic is open on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and will soon add a psychiatry clinic on Mondays.

Joe transitioned into the Stephen Center’s permanent supportive housing in late summer. He continues to see Thorson for his primary care and several specialists at Nebraska Medicine for monitoring his chronic health conditions.

He is looking forward to continuing to improve his health and wants to get his certificate to be a Spanish interpreter.

“The people at OneWorld and here at the Stephen Center are amazing,” said Joe. “I would really like to thank Lolita and Lilly at the Stephen Center and Cody Thorson and Priscilla Birdsley from OneWorld. Their kindness and humility brings me to tears. They have kind hearts and I am forever grateful for their help.”

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