Medicaid Matters: Julie’s Story

Medicaid is a ‘godsend’ during job search

For 18 years, Julie loved working as a residency coordinator in the orthopedics department of a large teaching hospital in Syracuse, New York. It was more than just a job. She describes herself as the “den mother” to hundreds of orthopedic residents – physicians in training – at the hospital. She begins crying when she talks about them.

In 2016 Julie began experiencing excruciating pain in her right arm. It turned out to be nerve damage from repetitive injury due to decades of typing. She had surgery in August 2017 and was scheduled to be off work for three weeks.

Julie’s whole life was turned upside down when she couldn’t work due to a  permanent injury. Medicaid was there to help

Instead, it’s been more than a year. The nerve damage most likely is permanent, and Julie can no longer do this type of work.

After a year of being on medical disability through her employer, Julie was terminated because medically she couldn’t work. That’s when she started panicking. She also ended up on blood pressure medication because of the stress.

“I’m 52 years old, and I’ve worked hard my whole life,” she says, beginning at age 11 when she delivered newspapers six days a week. She had worked at the hospital in a variety of clerical roles for nearly 30 years.

After she lost her job, Julie applied for unemployment insurance and Medicaid. She began receiving her health coverage through Medicaid in July 2017.

“Everyone at Medicaid and my doctors’ offices has been so nice and compassionate. It’s been a godsend,” Julie says. She’s received care for preventive care through her primary doctor, but not for specialty care since not all doctors accept Medicaid.

“I really want to work. I can’t do office jobs, and I also have a medical restriction that says I can’t lift more than 10 to 20 pounds,” says Julie. “That’s been a deterrent in my job searches.” She’s applied for various positions but all have lifting requirements. She’s also taken advantage of vocational rehabilitation training to learn new work skills.

Meanwhile, she’s very grateful for Medicaid and is continuing to search for a job and new purpose in her life.

“I can’t do the same work I loved for so many years. But I still have one really strong arm and two strong legs.”

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