An Urban Pathways’ client has Sandra Perkins-Lawrence to thank for his eyesight.

Severe cataracts had been clouding this man’s vision, and his doctors were unable to help. But Sandra Perkins-Lawrence, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Urban Pathways ‘ Clinton Avenue Apartments and Boston Road Apartments in the Bronx wouldn’t accept no for an answer. She connected her client with a specialist and arranged for a procedure that restored his eyesight.

That’s just one episode among many in which Sandra has proved vital to Urban Pathways and to the health of her clients. As an LPN, her job is to make sure clients’ health and nutrition needs are met. To accomplish this, Sandra, connects them to community-based medical and mental health care providers, interacts with health professionals such as pharmacists on behalf of clients, monitors clients with chronic health conditions, and helps clients adhere to their medication regimens.

It’s a crucial role with plenty of challenges. “For many clients, health is simply not a priority,” says Sandra. “In those cases, we need to get them to understand why they need to eat a certain way or take a certain medication—particularly our clients with diabetes or hypertension.” Such cases are the impetus behind monthly educational group meetings offered on various health topics at the Clinton Avenue and Boston Road Apartments.

As all things non-essential ground to a halt in March, Sandra and her colleagues scrambled to find ways to maintain health services remotely. “I would call daily to check up on clients,” she says. “For clients without phones, I’d have security staff page them to come talk with me on the phone in the security booth.”

Sandra and other staff also arranged for a mobile health van to serve clients where they live, and worked hard to educate residents on the virus’s symptoms and preventive measures to be taken. Remarkably, only one client in Sandra’s care has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Pandemic or not, Sandra’s mission is unchanging: serving the city’s neediest who, she reminds, are good people who have merely fallen on rough times.

“When I witness a client’s quiet gratitude for a health service, they know they need,” she says, “it’s unbelievably rewarding.”

By Urban Pathways on December 17, 2020