HealthVine Cares for the Whole Family
HealthVine Cares for the Whole Family
Jasmine Russell, a community health worker with HealthVine, helped a family of nine overcome numerous obstacles to find a home.
Dierdre* was the mother of eight, fleeing from an abusive marriage with her children and only the belongings she was able to fit in the car. After driving north through several states, she and the kids arrived in Ohio where they found refuge in a housing shelter. The shelter secured housing for the family for a year, and Dierdre was able to find a job. Things were going to be tough, but this, at least, was a start.
In May 2022, one of the children was hospitalized and referred to Cincinnati Children’s HealthVine. Jasmine Russell, a community health worker on the HealthVine Chronic Conditions team, was assigned to help the family. The referral was just in time, as their situation was about to turn from bad to worse.
“Dierdre lost her job after her child was hospitalized,” says Jasmine. “She also received an eviction notice from her landlord. Although she was diligently looking for new employment, she was rejected multiple times. The same was true when she applied for housing. Landlords turned her away because of the size of her family or they didn’t want to accept a housing voucher. I attended four court hearings with Dierdre to help her keep her home, but the court ordered a seven-day eviction. So, the family was forced to live in their car.”
This is the kind of work that Jasmine does in her role as a HealthVine community health worker.
“My job is to connect patients and families with resources, meeting them where they are—mentally, physically or financially—and to break down the barriers that prevent them from having a positive healthcare journey,” she explains.
Sometimes solutions are fairly simple, like arranging transportation to an appointment or making sure they have access to baby formula. But other times, the obstacles are complex and unrelenting, as they were with Dierdre’s dilemma.
“A lot of agencies were involved with helping the family,” says Jasmine, “but progress on their case seemed to have stalled. I reached out to each of them and set up a group chat to help coordinate their efforts and move things along where I could. Then I contacted other agencies wherever I saw a gap in services. I also found a landlord whom I’d known from a previous job who was willing to rent to the family. But we hit a snag there at the last minute when trying to negotiate a price. Meanwhile, her housing voucher was due to expire, even after multiple extensions, and the program she was in at the shelter was coming to an end.”
Jasmine hoped to help resolve the situation before it got to the eviction stage, but that wasn’t possible. For a few days, she lost contact with the family and didn’t know where to find them.
“I was worried about them—nine people living in a car,” she recalls. “It was early fall, so the nights were getting colder.”
When Dierdre did reach out again, she was depressed and experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. She expressed the idea that the world would be better off without her and refused any crisis intervention.
But Jasmine persisted and was able to convince Dierdre to get the help she needed to stabilize her mood.
Finally, in mid-October, the landlord Jasmine had contacted changed his mind and signed a new rental agreement with the family within hours of their housing voucher expiring.
“We did a walkthrough of the home,” says Jasmine, “and it was amazing to see the joy on the kids’ faces. When Mom told them, ‘Come on, get your things out of the car,’ the younger ones were jumping up and down with excitement.”
In addition to helping the family find secure housing, Jasmine helped them apply for a social investment grant with HealthVine so they could buy furniture.
Patients and families who are referred to HealthVine can expect a deep commitment to their child’s care and support that extends to all aspects of their well-being.
Says Jasmine, “I’m so proud of our team. We have a thing called ‘Friday wins,’ where we share what we accomplished for a patient during the week. It could be finding stable housing, facilitating a car repair or helping a parent find a job. Our program is still pretty new, so not everyone knows about it, but we do everything we can to make sure we’re meeting the needs of families.”
For more information about HealthVine, visit Cincinnati Children's HealthVine - Home - Learn More (cincinnatichildrens.org).
*Name changed to protect the family’s privacy.