Debbie, Audrain County

After 38 years, Debbie, 58, lost the only job she ever had as a surgical technician at a hospital operating room. Leaving her central Illinois home to Wells Fargo, Debbie was forced to move back home to central Missouri. She cannot get a surgical tech job in Missouri—it requires both money for training and an employer willing to invest in an aging worker. She has few employment options. Currently, Debbie works as a server at a private school cafeteria. The job is part-time, physically draining and pays minimum wage. For the first time in her life, she is faced with learning how to navigate social service and charity programs to survive.

When she lost her health care career and her first time home ownership, she also lost her health insurance coverage and health providers. Debbie struggles with COPD, intestinal disease, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in her wrists and more. She has to seek out doctors willing to see an uninsured patient and must figure out which medications she can purchase and which ones she must go without. Facing bankruptcy now and living in a family member’s spare bedroom, some days it is difficult to keep going. She lives in fear of just one more health emergency or financial crisis.