July 16, 2015
Married for 50 years, James Bunyan and his wife Jean moved to Midland in 2012. They heard it was difficult to find a good doctor in the area and were told by word of mouth that Chigamik was a great option. After visiting Chigamik for the first time, they quickly realized this type of health care model was exactly what they were looking for.
James did not have any real health concerns at the time but his wife had been previously diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They were placed in the care of a Nurse Practitioner, Nicole Ayotte, who gave them a complete physical and would oversee any health issues they had now and in the future. A care plan was developed to manage Jean’s health issues including visits with a Chigamik dietician, a mental health counselor and a recommendation to join Chigamik’s partner, the YMCA, for the “Fitness for Health” program. These combined modalities helped Jean improve her physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“The set up really appealed to us because you’re able to see your Nurse Practitioner on a regular basis, and if you require additional support, they immediately refer you to a specialist or suggest one of Chigamik’s programs. And, the best part of it is they follow and support you the entire way,” said Bunyan.
In early 2015, James experienced some serious medical issues and went back to Nicole to get a diagnosis. Nicole immediately sent James for an ultrasound and referred him to a specialist. “Chigamik has amazing relationships with experts and surgeons, it’s all very seamless. I could not have been attended to faster, and everything was explained to me in layman’s terms. It’s a really great feeling knowing that you’re being looked after so well,” says Bunyan.
Because of the quick referral from Chigamik, James was able to have surgery within weeks of the diagnosis and was reassured that everything was going to be ok. During this entire process, the staff at Chigamik were keeping in contact with him and making sure he understood all the steps involved. “The Chigamik staff even sent me a detailed map on how to get the hospital for my surgery,” said Bunyan. James even spent some time with his counselor to make sure he didn’t become depressed and was provided with coping strategies to deal with the stress and fear related to the surgery. “There’s always a smiling face at Chigamik to make you feel great,” he added.
A PATIENT-CENTERED HEALTH HUB
One of Chigamik’s mandates is to ensure all programs and services are planned from a holistic perspective. This means that the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of the patient are connected and supported through all forms of health care. Both James and Jean came from a background of childhood trauma and didn’t realize they could benefit from mental health counseling until coming to Chigamik. Because Chigamik is a health hub that offers more than just primary care, Nicole recommended they both see separate counselors at Chigamik to help them overcome their issues from the past. “I was troubled but didn’t really understand the extend of it or how it was affecting my life until I got help from counseling at Chigamik. I was becoming very angry and troubled with my past and I couldn’t really understand it because it never bothered me before. I just bottled it up,” said Bunyan.
When James met with his mental health counselor, Julien Laramee for the first time, he described it as just “clicking” and began seeing Julien on a weekly basis. Julien provided him with the tools needed to release the anger and fear he had bottled up for years.
Half way through the sessions was a breaking point for James. “After all these years of abuse, I never allowed myself to cry. This all changed. Julien enabled me to allow myself to release my negative thoughts and begin to move on. This was a turning point for me and I was finally beginning to heal,” said Bunyan.
After a year of meeting with Julien every couple of weeks, James was ready to move on and enjoy life. “Julien has been a rock to me. After working through all my issues over the past year, I am more comfortable with myself, I’m able to trust and make new friends, I’m more active and present in what I’m doing, and it all springs from the help and support I got at Chigamik. I am very pleased with the results – I’ve come a long way,” said Bunyan.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
James and Jean are living much happier lives these days and have many goals and aspirations for the future. “Julien recently said to me – now you’re looking forward to a bright future, and I said yes! There are no more illusions,” said Bunyan. “I just turned 73 and I have a bet with my life insurance company that I’m going to live to 100. Because of the help I received from Julien and the team at Chigamik, I feel like I want to do so much with my life, I’m ready to live!”
After his final counseling session, Julien pulled James aside and told him to seek counseling the minute he starts to feel down. “I’m still your counselor. Everything is flying high at the moment but if things change because of a new circumstance in your life, just give me a call. It could be in a week, six months, or six years from now,” said Laramee.
“Julien is more than just a counselor, he cares about me. That’s the way I see all of them at Chigamik. We could not ask for a better place,” said Bunyan.