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Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum: Health Care

Health Care for Me

Home Ritu Gyawali

Elderly Parents, Chronic Condition, Medicaid, Medicare

Ritu is 24-years old, a Texan, Nepali American and daughter. She loves country music, Mexican American food and her family. In the early 2000s, Ritu’s father began to feel increasingly fatigued, dizzy with periods of rapid heartbeat. He would describe the pain like his heart was beating out of his chest. He was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and eventually, congestive heart failure.

In the event that her dad may have a heart attack or stroke, the family moved to an apartment complex directly in front of the county health department. You see, Ritu’s parents were uninsured. Their sole source of care was the county health department across the street.

In 2010, Ritu’s father suffered an atrial attack where his entire body shook violently. He refused to have the family call 911 for greater fear of the ambulance and emergency room bills. Ritu’s sister wheeled her still trembling father across the street to see the doctor. Shocked, the doctor immediately ordered him to a hospital.

Ritu’s father gained health insurance for the first time through Medicaid in 2011. Ritu’s remembers joking that her dad was a VIP now. This was the first time he was able to go to the hospital and receive care immediately.

"Ritu shares that it still seems 'special' when she accompanies her father to the doctor. It is like a dream come true that her father has a regular doctor who coordinates his care."

Even with healthcare coverage, it’s been a tough year. Her father has been hospitalized 3-times since March and her family constantly worries about his failing heart.

Medicaid provides enough financial support to cover the majority of Ritu’s father’s co-payments as well as free transportation for medical visits. Ritu’s father regularly meets with his primary care physician, cardiologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist, and hepatologist. And due to his current condition, Ritu’s father has home health care arrangements, where a nurse, occupational therapist, and physical therapist visit him. If Ritu’s father loses Medicaid coverage, Ritu and her siblings don’t know how they will cover the costs for his life-saving-care.

Ritu Gyawali is a Procurement and Facilities Coordinator at HOPE Clinic, in Houston, Texas