For years, he struggled to maintain his independence despite difficulties finding work, securing benefits and affording the high co-pays on the drugs he needed to treat his worsening condition.
“I didn’t realize there were resources tailored for people like me,” says Jim, who finally did call the Chapter two years ago seeking information. He’d drained his savings, was on Medicare, and couldn’t afford his medication.
After all those years of going it alone, he needed guidance. So the Chapter introduced him to its MS Navigator program.
“Navigators” are highly trained professionals who steer people toward the personalized services and practical resources they need to meet the many challenges of their disease.
“Anytime a client calls the Society in need of information or help to navigate different options, they are connected to an MS Navigator,” explains Client Services Coordinator Emily Edmiston. The navigator provides people with the latest information on MS, including:
Those callers who have ongoing needs are connected to a care manager for more intensive follow-up.
Jim was assigned a care manager, Sarah Winter, who helped him assess his needs and determine a course of action. He not only got the drug assistance he was seeking, but also home modification services, counseling and legal assistance.
“I still have Sarah’s number and contact her from time to time,” Jim says, adding that his next goal is to move to a more accessible living space. “I’m trying to hang on to as much of my independence as possible.”
The 46-year-old admits to being “extremely stubborn” when it comes to doing things on his own, but he’s come to realize there’s no shame in asking for help.
“This would be too much for me to bear,” he says, “were it not for the compassionate and loving people in my church and at the Chapter, and a wonderful group of supportive friends.”
CONTACT AN MS NAVIGATOR: