Julie Early

Mother of 2 Wasn’t Getting Enough To Eat

The Christmas holiday was fast approaching, and the teammates at the Atrium Health Floyd Family Medicine Residency clinic were ready to get on with their shopping, wrapping, cooking and celebrating. Marta, an expectant mom, was the last patient of what had been a long week.

The patient previously had shared with her nurse, Julie Early, that her home situation was not ideal. And on this particular Friday, Marta was stressed. Clearly anxious, she needed reassurance.

More than anything, she wanted an ultrasound of her baby, but her assigned provider was unable to do the ultrasound. Recognizing an opportunity to calm her patient, Julie asked another resident, Dr. Adriana Delmonico, if she would help.

“We all were exhausted, thinking we couldn’t see one more patient, but we made a special effort for Marta,” Julie said, adding that Marta had been a Residency Clinic patient during her first pregnancy as well. “She has been kind of special in my heart.”

Marta left the clinic that day with printed images of the baby she was carrying. She told Julie later that she created Christmas ornaments from the prints she received that day.

After her baby was born, Marta returned to the clinic regularly for her post-partum visits, but always with symptoms that could not be explained medically. She was having trouble eating, nauseous, dizzy and losing weight. Sensing a bigger issue was at hand, Julie probed further, delicately asking Marta about her economic situation.

Through tears, Marta explained that it wasn’t that she couldn’t eat. She wasn’t eating to make sure she had enough food for her two young children.

“That just ripped our hearts out,” Julie said.

Julie set aside her plans to meet Marta’s need. A resident physician had brought a case of snack pouches to the clinic – baby food and snack items that her own children wouldn’t eat. Julie gave them to Marta. Another teammate with a connection to Chick-fil-a had brought a stack of sandwich vouchers to the clinic. Julie gave several to Marta, enough for her to feed herself and her family several meals.

“We do that a lot for our super-needy families,” Julie said. “We take for granted zipping through Chick-fil-a and getting something for our kids. This is a tremendous luxury for these families.”

Julie also connected Marta with someone who could help her get established with an assistance program.

Today, Marta is getting the help she needs. She now comes in weekly for follow-up and her symptoms of malnourishment have resolved.

“We keep a close eye on her and any needs she has,” Julie said. “It’s really good to see that she is in a much better place.”

This summer, Atrium Health Floyd will begin screening all patients for 10 social determinants of health:

  • Housing security
  • Food security
  • Transportation availability
  • Access to utilities
  • Personal safety
  • Financial strain
  • Employment
  • Family and community support
  • Education
  • Physical activity

If a patient reveals they have an issue in one of these areas, it will be documented, and the patient will be referred to a community resource to help them with their need. Marta’s story is an example of why this work is so important.

About Atrium Health Floyd

The Atrium Health Floyd family of health care services is a leading medical provider and economic force in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Atrium Health Floyd is part of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Advocate Health, the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health.

Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,5​00 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center – a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center in Rome, Georgia; Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia; and Atrium Health Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; as well as Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center Behavioral Health – a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility in Rome – and also primary care and urgent care network locations throughout northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.​

About Advocate Health 

Advocate Health is the fifth-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs.

Advocate Health employs nearly 150,000 team members across 67 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $5 billion in annual community benefits. 

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