“I prayed to God and he told me: ‘Go to Atlanta, you need all the help you can get.’” 

That’s what landed Wendy Enswiller in Georgia just over six months ago. She had been living in her home state of Virginia when, upon remarrying, her landlord decided to move out to the country. Wendy immediately lost her place to live.  

On top of that, Wendy was dealing with chronic undiagnosed pain and food security issues that stemmed from childhood.  

“When I was little—and I really hate to say this—there was never food in the house. My dad was an alcoholic and a drug abuser, because it was during the Vietnam War,” she says before taking a long pause. When asked if she wants to continue, she nods.  

“There are a lot of people out there going through the same thing, and I do have food insecurities,” she affirms. 

For Wendy, the combined challenges of housing, health care, and nutrition were like layers of an onion—it was hard to peel back one without coming up against another. And she was facing them by herself, in a new city where she didn’t know a soul.  

And then, one day through word of mouth, she heard about Mercy Care. That’s where she met Senge Ngalame, who was starting a new position as a community health worker. 

Senge will never forget Wendy. Not just because she was her very first patient, but because of the bond they shared.  

“Wendy is really special to me. The connection that we have comes from when I was new and still learning things,” Senge explains. “She was so calm and patient with me. She kept trying to boost me up and tell me it’s ok, and that she was so grateful for what I did for her. I still check in on her. It was a nice connection to have and I can never forget her.” 

They met when Wendy visited the Decatur Street clinic for the first time. While Wendy initially came in looking for a dentist, she was referred to Senge for assistance with the other issues she was facing. Although Wendy had secured a job, she needed a place to live and help navigating medical and mental health issues while she waited for her insurance to kick in through her new employer. Senge was just the person Wendy needed. 

“People tell me I’m a human search engine because I know so much,” Senge says of her role as a community health worker. “People come and ask me, ‘I need this or that,’ and I can refer you to x y z. Come visit me and boom, I give you the answer. And being able to be that resource for people who can’t find the answer themselves, I find that rewarding.” 

In addition to Senge’s deep knowledge of public health issues and programs, her employer, Mercy Care, is part of a Community Resource Hub managed through ARCHI. This Atlanta-based, real-time rapid referral network addresses barriers to care by placing patients at the center of a system that coordinates around them. This meant that Senge had a network of providers and programs at her fingertips as she addressed Wendy’s issues. The programs offered by the Hub would be key in solving one of Wendy’s biggest issues—her long-term chronic pain.   

“I kept having chronic pain in my abdomen,” Wendy recalls. Yet despite multiple visits to the emergency room, the staff she spoke with couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  

That is, until she started working with Senge. 

“At Mercy Care, they told me they had ultrasounds and this, that and the other, and [I realized] really there is such a thing as hope here,” Wendy says. 

After her initial visits, Senge signed Wendy up for a program offered through the ARCHI Community Resource Hub that is designed to help patients with high blood pressure. It provides them with a blood pressure monitor and cuff they can use in the convenience of their own home. The program helps train them on how to use it, and then when they take their daily reading, it is automatically recorded into their chart. 

“I always have pain on my left side, and I could never figure it out,” Wendy says. “They told me you have to start eating better. And now I’m taking blood pressure pills.” 

This is ARCHI’s the goal throughof the Community Resource Hub: to give community health workers like Senge the tools they need to help with the complex challenges many patients face, and that our current system of care makes almost impossible to address. 

Ask Senge what she wishes she could share about the challenges Wendy—and so many others—face every day.  

“Health disparities are real,” she says. “You just don’t realize it, but it’s everywhere. Even if you try to ignore it, it’s right in front of you.” 

Like Wendy, many of Senge’s patients face multiple, compounding issues that impact their health and well-being. And yet the burden of trying to navigate the system of care—and all of the paperwork, referrals, applications, treatment plans and pre-approvals—is placed on the individual. 

That is, until now.  

The Community Resource Hub that Senge is a part of is designed to flip the script and center care around the individual. That means that as Wendy navigated the challenges she was facing, Senge was with her every step of the way to answer questions, streamline appointments and necessary verifications, and help her connect with the programs that would work best for her.  

Nothing illustrates this better than Wendy’s search for her birth certificate.  

“Many years ago, I had lost my birth certificate. And I had never paid attention to it because I really didn’t need to,” Wendy says. 

That was the case—until she needed it to get her new driver’s license. She tried over and over again, starting in 2013, to apply for a new birth certificate. And over and over again, she was told that her paperwork wasn’t correct. But no one could tell her exactly what was wrong with the information she had submitted. Wendy became so frustrated she wanted to start from scratch. 

“I was so down and depressed because I didn’t know who I was,” she recalls. “I was going to change my name. The name I was going to use was Susanna Martha Price. My birthday was going to be July 16,1973. But seeing the therapist and all the doctors [at Mercy Care] made an impact for me to go find out who I am.” 

“You just have to calm down and remain calm [they told me]. “There’s just a piece of the puzzle that’s lacking.” With this support and encouragement, Wendy logged on to Ancestry.com to look up her family tree. 

“And there it was,” she said of the information she had been missing.  

“I looked up one of my great uncles who raised me—there on his site was my mom’s tombstone with her name on it. It was not the name I was ever given. I knew her by another name. I never knew she was adopted either. So If I hadn’t come to Atlanta, I would have never known.” 

Then Wendy smiles. “So I have my birth certificate now.” 

With her new job at UPS going well, her birth certificate and driver’s license secured, and her health issues on the mend, Wendy will soon wrap up her work with Senge. But their connection will continue to motivate Senge long after Wendy moves on. 

“For me, it’s all about meeting the people,” she says. “I love the interaction. Yes, the stories can be heartfelt, but knowing that I’ve done my part and knowing that I brought a smile to their face and the fact that they have someone to talk to about these things, I’m glad I can be that person.” 

That connection to others has also been enhanced by the Community Resource Hub, which brings its members together to share stories, challenges, and lessons learned. They do this through periodic Zoom and in-person conferences.  

“We have partner meetings at least once a month, when we all gather together and we discuss what is going on with our organizations, what needs to be improved, what needs to be changed, what can we do, what do we need help with, and sharing what we are doing to improve.”  

“For me, it’s interesting to hear everyone’s stories, what are common threads and learning about each other. We don’t get to see each other every day, but when we do get together in person, just hearing the stories and learning about what everybody’s going through in their respective organizations is really cool.” 


The Community Resource Hub that Senge and other community health workers are part of is an ARCHI program that is inverting the burden of navigating the system of care away from the individual and centering care around the patient. Learn more about how the Hub is confronting Atlanta’s health equity challenges.

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