Dan’s Story: A Journey to Healthier Living

Together, we fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community, and with your help, we’re changing lives for the better. These stories offer a glimpse into the positive impact we can have when we LIVE UNITED.

The following story was submitted by our funded partner Access Health Stark County.


We met Dan at the Hope Outreach Center on the Northeast side of Canton. Dan was living in a shelter due to not being able to work. He was having his blood pressure checked by nurses from Aultman just as he had done many times. His blood pressure was high. He began to talk to the nurses and they suggested that he work with a Community Health Worker (CHW) from Access Health.

When Dan first talked to us, he said that he had been short of breath and wanted to apply for Social Security/Disability because he didn’t feel he could work any longer. Through our HUB Pathways risk assessment we learned so much more about him. It isn’t unusual that our clients identify their top needs and as we dig a little deeper we find out that they have so much more going on.

Our community health worker spent time with him over the next few weeks identifying Dan’s goals and objectives. We discovered that several months before he had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and it was his belief that there was nothing he could do about it. He was overwhelmed and discouraged. We were able to connect him back to his primary care doctor and followed up with an appointment to Aultman’s Cardiovascular Group. They confirmed his congestive heart failure.

Dan felt it was basically a death sentence. He had been missing doctor appointments and going to the ER when he didn’t feel well. What he didn’t realize was that his disease was manageable if he could learn how to do it. He set out his goals with the CHW to include learning to take his own blood pressure, journal it, and report that and his weight back to his doctor. He began to understand what was a good blood pressure and what was a bad blood pressure. He learned his numbers.

Next, he learned to watch for shortness of breath and his feet swelling to know that he might be heading into trouble. This helped him avoid going back to the ER. He learned to call “Ask the Nurse” to confirm his symptoms.

When we first met Dan, he was trying to be compliant with his medications, but with not feeling well, he blamed it on the new medication and several times thought about stopping. Fortunately, the CHW kept encouraging him to keep trying as some medications can make you not feel well initially.

The next challenge was one that he, and many others like him, fear…Learning to eat healthier. He didn’t understand the connection between his diet and his weight. His doctor was asking him to lose weight in order to save his life. The community health worker, who is also trained for diabetes education and blood pressure management began working on a simple plan for eating. Identifying what he was eating was pretty revealing. Like many others that are in chronic poverty, he was utilizing dinners offered at a variety of sites and food from the pantries.

The CHW began outlining simple steps for losing weight. As he noticed some weight loss, he felt so much better and was motivated to keep going. Over a period of 6 months, he lost 30 lbs.

Dan recently went back to work, found a better apartment and is proud that he has learned to manage his chronic illness so that he can keep working. He now shops for fresh fruits and vegetables, takes his medications correctly, talks with his doctor frequently. He states that he feels happier and is confident he can live much longer and healthier. Dan has also become a champion in talking to others at work to share the simple things he learned from his Community Health Worker.

About Access Health Stark County

Access Health Stark County’s mission is to provide access to a coordinated system of health care and community resources for those that are underserved and uninsured in our community.

Support Access Health Stark County and our other community partners by making a gift today.