Healthy Hub

The Harrelson Center's new intiative helps those in need with health care assistance

Helphub Crop

The Help Hub was looking for help with health care outreach. SUSAN BOYD (pictured middle) is a nurse already used to helping at-risk populations. The two converged and a “good marriage” developed.

Help Hub, housed in The Harrelson Center, is a nonprofit serving people in need by providing emergency financial assistance, guidance and support and connections to community services. The organization is led by Executive Director MEADE VAN PELT (pictured right).

Director SONJA MCFARLAND (pictured left) and her crew of volunteers offer assistance with what she calls “the basic determinants”—housing, transportation, utilities—but soon realized these needs could be better served when healthcare was not a worry.

But to make this happen McFarland decided she needed more help with case management.

“We were using the help of a pharmacist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center hospital to help with general questions such as prescriptions and co-pays, etc.,” she says. But demand was increasing, especially during COVID-19.

She turned to the Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear, an organization whose mission is to support patients and providers, improve outcomes, and reduce care costs. There, McFarland connected with Boyd, care manager and healthcare navigator.

Boyd, who has worked as a nurse for twenty years and has been at CCLCF for six years, was eager to take on the role.

“How can someone concentrate on their housing or transportation needs when their health is at stake,” Boyd says.

Boyd’s main role is to assess, guide, and direct clients to appropriate resources depending on their healthcare needs. She is available to uninsured/underinsured and low-income clients for telehealth sessions now during the pandemic.

Once an initial assessment has been made, she follows up with a client once a week for the next four weeks or as needed. Each situation varies, and as expected, caseloads have increased because of Covid.

“The pandemic has brought on more work,” she says. “Lots of people are suffering from depression and stress. I have been making many referrals.”

McFarland and Boyd see their jobs as true labors of love. McFarland claims there are no cons to her job. Of course, she admits to the minor frustrations of paperwork, etc., but witnessing the journey and end result are what matters.

“You can tell even through the phone when there is a smile at the other end,” she says.

Boyd echoes McFarland’s sentiment. “I am a positive person, so I don’t see the cons.”

There are so many obstacles navigating the healthcare system, and Boyd is glad to help.

“It can be so stressful and overwhelming. I like directing clients where to go and watch this whole collaborative effort come together,” she says. “You never know what position someone is in, and most importantly, I want to see their health improve.”

And in many cases that is exactly what she does. For example, she recently worked with a mom who lost her job due to Covid. Her young child was diagnosed as not thriving. Boyd made sure she got deliveries of PediaSure and the child bounced back. “The mom said she didn’t know what she would have done without us.”

Moments like these make it all worthwhile. Hopefully, these memories will continue.

Boyd’s position was made possible through a grant from the Ministering Circle. The grant lasts until January 2021 and McFarland hopes for its renewal.

“It’s not a surprise that everyone wants to be healthy, and if a nurse is immediately available, why not take advantage of the opportunity,” she says.  “Underlying health issues get overshadowed by pressing financial needs, and with Susan, we have been able to take a more wholesome approach to addressing the well-being of our neighbors. We desperately want to continue this relationship.”


To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to arisharding.com.

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Categories: Health