By luck, they stumbled across a program at a FamilyCare community health center.
Carol Toney and her daughter went to the Big Lots on Patrick Street in Charleston. "We noticed a place called FamilyCare next door to Big Lots, and my daughter said, 'Mom, let's go in there and see if it's anything that can help you.'
"It was one of the best things we ever did," she said.
FamilyCare is one of 160 federally funded community health center offices scattered around the state. Nobody is turned away for lack of insurance or money.
"We didn't know such things existed," Carol Toney said. "We were flying blind and ran into it."
The FamilyCare nursing staff has helped James Toney stabilize his blood pressure. They signed them both up for free medication through WVRX, operated by West Virginia Health Right. A FamilyCare social worker helped arrange a few hours a week of Medicaid in-home care for their mother. The doctor discovered James had an eye problem "that would have caused me to lose my eye."
"We aim to help patients take control of their own health," said J.D. Simpson, director of the FamilyCare center at Patrick Street.
The Toneys pay FamilyCare on a sliding scale. They also qualified for hospital care through the Community Access Program, a collaborative program between Charleston Area Medical Center and four community health centers: FamilyCare, Cabin Creek Health Systems, New River Health Association, and Hygeia Facilities Foundation.
The staff helped each of them make a detailed medical plan designed to control their diabetes and high blood pressure and any other health issues. Because they qualify for CAP, they qualify for care at CAMC.
As part of health reform, the state will soon launch an aggressive campaign to let working uninsured people know about these services. Health care reform will pump millions into expansion of community health centers. All recently enlarged their facilities with stimulus dollars.
Besides medical checkups, FamilyCare and other health centers offer diabetes and high blood pressure classes, prenatal and childbirth services, diet counseling, labs and X-ray, social workers who help people resolve stressful situations, dental, legal and other services.
"The people at FamilyCare have treated us like family," James Toney said. "The good Lord's always taken care of us, and this time he opened a wonderful door. You couldn't ask for any better care than we've had from them."
Reach Kate Long at katel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1798.