Sandra Talley is a cancer survivor, and she has served on Neighborhood’s board of directors.
Sandra’s Neighborhood story began more than ten years ago. She was at Windsong Radiology for a mammogram and met Neighborhood’s President and CEO Joanne Haefner, MS, FNP who was assisting at Windsong. At the end of the exam, Joanne asked Sandra if she had a primary doctor or other healthcare needs. Sandra took Joanne’s card and soon followed up.
“Where I was going, I wasn’t very pleased with the service I was getting, so I thought why not give it (Neighborhood Health Center) a try, even though it was on the opposite side of town,” said Sandra, who lives on the east side of Buffalo. “I came here and I really appreciated the people that I met. They took care of me. I’ve had probably the same doctor for over five years. I’ve had the same dentist for over, probably ten years or more.”
Neighborhood has become Sandra’s go-to place for primary care, gynecology, dentistry, nutrition services, and podiatry.
In 2016, Sandra felt a lump in her breast and mentioned it to her Neighborhood doctor who sent her to get tested. A few days later, it was confirmed. She had breast cancer. However, it was treatable. Sandra worked with Neighborhood providers who recommended doctors for her cancer treatment and lumpectomy.
“About a week before I was supposed to have my surgery…(my doctor) wanted to check on me to make sure it was okay to go to surgery,” explains Sandra. “So literally this was on Super Bowl Sunday, my doctor calls me from Neighborhood Health Center to have me check my blood pressure…I don’t know too many doctors who would pick up their phone on Super Bowl Sunday and call to make sure I’m okay.”
That phone call proved to be vital. It forced Sandra to visit the doctor’s office the next morning where although her blood pressure was fine, Sandra did mention having cold or flu-like symptoms. Additional tests found concerns with her heart and Sandra was rushed to Buffalo General over a possible heart attack.
After a few days in the hospital, doctors determined Sandra had inflammation of the heart. Her lumpectomy would have to wait. She would need about six weeks of rest before that surgery. Sandra believes the Super Bowl Sunday phone call from her Neighborhood doctor may have saved her life.
“If I had not been working with the doctor that I was working with here, and for her to have that much concern for me, I could have been on that operating table the next day, and who knows what could have happened to me,” says Sandra. “For me, that’s what I would call a crucial catch and that solidified me wanting to continue to be here (at Neighborhood).”
Going through her cancer journey, Sandra met with Neighborhood dentists to make sure her dental care took into account her cancer treatments. Sandra also met with Neighborhood dieticians to make sure she was eating the right foods for cancer treatment success.
Perhaps most importantly, Sandra feels heard when she discusses her healthcare needs with Neighborhood providers. She credits Neighborhood’s collaborative approach and the fact that she could talk to providers in each service area, as major factors in her cancer treatment success. She has now been cancer free for over five years.
Sandra believes so much in Neighborhood's mission and model of collaborative care that she volunteered her time and talents to serve on Neighborhood Health Center’s board of directors, participating in the fundraising and quality committees.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center, at least 51% of Neighborhood's board of directors -- the health center's governing body -- are Neighborhood patients. The inclusion of these board members gives patients a majority voice in how the health center is run.
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