After 40 years dedicated to hospital and community health nursing, Frances Lopes joined the Aetna Medicaid Risk team in Maryland in 2017 as a clinical case manager. Her first case was a man with painful fingers. Fran didn’t know at the time, while she would help to save his hand — she would also help him to get back on his feet. And, she would gain a dear friend in the process.
“I have diabetes and my fingers were swollen and black and required treatment. I was really nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect,” explains Javier Edwards. Javier’s work as a meat packer in sub-freezing temperatures using only rubber gloves, may have contributed to his severe frostbite. “Fran was with me over two hours at my first doctor’s appointment helping me understand the care needed to save my fingers.”
By this point in his life, Javier had already faced so many challenges. Along with deteriorating health, his wife had passed away from cancer, he was living in a shelter without a job and with no income to buy food.
“With English as a second language and severe dyslexia, communication was difficult, and Javier lacked the skills needed for many positions. Understandably, he was depressed,” explains Fran.
Fran became Javier’s advocate — explaining medical jargon in plain language, talking to doctors on his behalf, scheduling appointments and lining up transportation. She helped him through foot reconstruction surgery to save severely crooked toes from amputation. And after surgery, when he was about to be discharged but noticed an odd smell from a toe, Fran immediately contacted his surgeon who rushed him back into surgery. Unfortunately, the toe couldn’t be saved and was amputated. But, Fran was there for him.
“She was the first person to help me in this way,” says Javier.
Aetna Medicaid offers hope for a better life
With Fran’s continued care, Javier’s health improved. Today, he sees a psychiatrist for depression. He monitors his diabetes carefully to stay healthy. He’s starting a job training program and has transitioned from the shelter to a beautiful sunny apartment complex where he and Fran recently met to have their photo taken for this story.
“I crossed a bridge and give thanks for Frances. She’s an angel God sent to me,” says Javier with utter sincerity.
“Seeing you healthy, with so much confidence and at peace, fills my heart with joy,” Fran responds with a smile. “We’re friends for life you know.”
We give thanks to you, Fran, for being a Heart At Work hero with unwavering compassion and care.