United Way of Madison County ensures everyone can learn and access the essentials
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Aging Independently

Health Success Stories

Mark is a social work intern from Alabama A&M University who was placed at Pathfinder's Drug & Rehabilitation Program. Since he began working there, he noticed the team of staff and volunteers was very dedicated, and clearly cared deeply about their work and those with whom they worked. While not every client "gets it", Mark could see very noticeable changes in several of the clients just during the first five weeks he was there.

"One young man with whom I have visited on several occasions has changed in such a dramatic way that he almost seems like a different person. I have watched him go from an angry, hurt, troubled, scared, withdrawn individual to a much more amiable, open, and relaxed young man. He has an entirely different demeanor and look," Mark observed. "Of course, deep-seated issues do not disappear overnight, and I realize he has only made a beginning. Nevertheless, what a beginning! He has really been using the recovery tools and life skills he is learning at the Pathfinder to find a new way of life - a sober life with a real future. I find it so refreshing to see, as evidenced in someone's life, that places like the Pathfinder actually work."

Steven came to HEALS at age four, his mother reporting that he was fine and had never experienced any chronic illness. As part of Steven's routine health examination, the nurse practitioner listened to Steven's heart - and heard something. There was a faint murmur. The nurse practitioner quickly referred Steven to a local pediatric cardiologist, who examined him and then referred him to UAB, where he was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriousus, a condition usually found at infancy. The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that is present in babies before birth, and allows blood to bypass the pathway to the lungs while the baby is still in the womb. When the baby is born, the vessel closes usually within the first few hours of life. But in some cases, like Steven's, it does not close on it's own, and if left undetected and untreated, can lead to fatigue, breathing problems, serious infection, or even heart failure.

Fortunately, thanks to the collaboration of HEALS with the other services, Steven's condition was identified and diagnosed before it became a serious problem. Surgery was performed by a UAB cardiovascular surgeon, and Steven is on the road to a healthy life and bright future!

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