Faces of HL

Ashley Reyes and Avi Reyes

Their story

When I was in 6 or 7th grade, I started having episodes of heart palpitations. Doctors said it was panic attacks, and it continued through high school and after graduation. Finally, I connected with Karen from Health Literacy for All and she helped me clearly summarize my symptoms and the history of my condition and helped me seek medical treatment at a different hospital. That day I finally got my answers. I had Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Karen helped me get health insurance and find a cardiologist. On May 23, 2013 I went to St Peter’s Hospital and had a cardiac ablation. But this wasn’t the end of the problem, because I started having palpitations a couple of months later. Following the strategies I’d learned from Karen, I kept seeking medical advice until I was given a diagnosis of IVTs: racing heart palpitations that were not able to be treated with surgery.

Things got more complicated when, in October 2013, I became pregnant with my now 7 month old daughter. Because of my heart condition, doctors gave me a 10% chance of carrying her through the first trimester, and an even smaller chance of surviving delivery.

Despite these odds, my daughter was born 8lbs 11oz and 19.5 inches long on July 10, 2014 at 8:23am. I delivered my daughter and we were both alive and healthy.

But soon our baby started throwing up after almost every meal. At 2 weeks old, an ER doctor told us it sounded like pyloric stenosis, a condition more commonly seen in boys older than our daughter. Without doing a test, they ruled it out because she was too young and a female. Her pediatrician said, “Babies just spit up. Feed her less more frequently and burp her often.” But she had lost 15% of her body weight and weighed less than she had at birth.

The health literacy skills I learned from Karen helped me demand that doctors keep seeking an accurate diagnosis. After more tests, we were told, “Your daughter has pyloric stenosis. It’s so severe that she’s going to need surgery.”

On August 10, 2014 at 1 month old, our daughter had surgery. We were told that if we had waited one more day, our daughter would have died from dehydration and malnutrition.

Because of my experience with having to fight for my own life, I was able to fight for my daughter’s life. You have to be your child’s advocate and I’m so glad that I learned that before it was too late.

My daughter is now a strong, smart, healthy 18 lb. 7.5 month old girl who always has a smile on her face.

A $500 donation allows us to provide the same level of care to another young family.

I am a resident at Doubleday Woods. Karen Laing has come to our building and taught classes. She is very interesting and has a diverse background which makes her teaching style understandable to all different people. I personally enjoy hearing her speak because she is upbeat and positive. Her message is clear, concise and positive, while educating seniors on health issues. I have seen first-hand some of our seniors that have a negative outlook on their lives and when Karen gets through her presentation they seem much better and more positive all around. Karen takes her time with seniors, especially on a one on one basis. She stays after her presentations to talk to them and to help with questions, making sure everyone understand her class. If they don’t she will talk to them and has scheduled to return with more information so they are better able to understand their health care needs. I would recommend Karen to any outreach organization trying to improve health care literacy. I feel her sincerity; her drive and her compassion make her the prime choice for educating on this subject.

A $1200 donation allows us to train the staff of this agency or another similar agency.

$3000 allows us to give some training to every resident this agency sees in a year.

List of Places Health Literacy for All Inc. taught classes for free

* Capital District Psychiatric Center’s Family Support Group:

  • Only 1 in 33 members of this group is fully health-literate.
  • Single Class costs $125.
  • $100,000 funds 4 classes/year for all 200 support groups in the greater Capital Region.

Alpha Pregnancy Center, Cohoes

  • $2000 to fully train the participants in all health literacy skills.
  • $8,000 funds training for participants of the additional 4 centers in the Capital Region.

* City Life Teen’s Mom Program

  • $5,200 covers the cost of putting the full program into City Life and training a Certified Health Literacy Trainer to continue teaching the next waves of pregnant teens.
  • $78,000 funds similar training for 15 other programs serving teen parents throughout the Capital Region.

* Schenectady School District- Keane Elementary School

  • $2,000 funds one class per month for a parent and upper grade student with an IEP and/or 504 plan.
  • $30,000 funds such classes for the 14 additional elementary schools in Schenectady.

* YMCA’s Youth and Government Program

  • 2 classes a year at $250
  • $6,000 funds classes for the 24 teen programs in Schenectady County.

* Schenectady Family and Children Service

American Cancer Society Hope Club

* Shelters of Saratoga

  • $6,000 funds full training for all house guests and 2 full days of staff development training.
  • $78,000 funds similar training for 13 other homeless or emergency shelters in the Capital Region.

* Doubleday Woods Senior Housing

  • $1500 funds monthly classes for a year.

* Bethlehem Senior Center

  • $1500 funds monthly classes for a year.

* B’nai B’rith Senior Apartments

  • $1500 funds monthly classes for a year.

* Saratoga Senior Center

  • $1500 funds monthly classes for a year.
  • $133,000 funds monthly classes at the other 88 subsidized housing options in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Rensselaer.

Upstate Professional Women

Employee Assistance Program Association

* TuneUp Professional Networking Events

* AlbanyEOC Foster Grandparent Program

* Veteran’s Law Day

  • $250 funds two classes held each year as part of their bi-annual event.
  • $12,000 funds two classes a year for all 48 veterans groups in the Capital Region.
  • $96,000 funds a full training for every group.

Those marked with an * asterisk have requested classes again for this year.

List of Places that have requested free classes

Saratoga County Code Blue Staff want staff development training at the cost of $2500 a year.

Capital District Center for Independence has asked for training for their clients.

  • $8,000 to fully train their clients.
  • $160,000 to put health literacy skills into the hands of the clients of the other 20 agencies that work with the disabled in the Capital District.

Schaeffer Heights Senior Apartments and Diamond Rock Terrace Senior Apartments had been getting discounted monthly classes until the corporate office took away all funding for presenters.

  • $1500 annually would restore these classes.
  • $12,000 would fund similar classes in 8 more of the 42 senior apartments in Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Albany that could use these classes.

Stillwater High School wants 2 classes taught to each of their high school health classes every year.

  • $1250 annually for the 5 classes in Stillwater.
  • $73,750 to teach “Your Mother Can’t Go With You Anymore” and “Texting, Tweeting and Emergency Preparedness” to the high school students in the 59 school districts in the Capital Region.

Schenectady Community Action Program wants a 2 hour staff development class and 2 hours of student classes taught to each of their health training programs.

  • $1000 funds this one type of training for Schenectady County Community Action Program.
  • Additional funds could be used to fund training for staff and clients of their long list of other programs.
  • Other counties have Community Action Programs that can use similar training.