Compassionate Care Helps Patient Lead Healthier Lifestyle

A man stands with a bike next to a building
Ballard stands with his electric bike at Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth.

In 2002, Portsmouth resident Ballard was a carpentry supervisor for the Big Dig in Boston, and he had insurance through a local carpenters’ union. Then he fell on the job and hurt his leg. While treating Ballard, doctors diagnosed a heart murmur, and he needed immediate open heart surgery. Ballard was told he couldn’t work anymore, which meant that his insurance was gone. He was 45 and living off his savings. Ballard heard that Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth offered patients a sliding scale discount based on income.

“I needed a new provider that would take me while being uninsured and unemployed, and didn’t cost an arm and leg out of pocket,” he said.

He became a primary care patient at Families First, which is part of Greater Seacoast Community Health’s network of community health centers. Since becoming a patient, Ballard has been able to get the care he needs without worrying about how he could pay for it. With multiple chronic health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and hemochromatosis, he has benefited from our integrated healthcare services and our compassionate staff.

Two years ago, Ballard was riding his electric bike when he was hit by a car. During recovery, he worked closely with his primary care provider, Emily Grattan, who encouraged him to take better care of his health. At the time, Ballard was morbidly obese and was taking 20 different medications a day, including insulin. He learned he was a candidate for bariatric surgery and presented this idea to Emily. She was supportive of the procedure and encouraged his desire to make positive changes for his health.

Six months after the surgery, Ballard now maintains a healthy weight and takes only a few medications daily. He no longer needs daily insulin.

“The surgery has been able to eliminate most of the medications I was taking, and I feel so much better,” Ballard said.

With 12 grandchildren, Ballard wants to be healthy and spend time with them for as long as he can.  He continues to ride an electric bike around Portsmouth. His strong connection with his team of providers has helped him maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“He’s been really proactive regarding his health,” said Emily. “Ballard has been making small goals and sticking to them. He’s involved in decision making and open to suggestions to live a longer, healthier life.”


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