Chrystal’s adult life started normally enough as a stay-at-home mother of five. However, a drug addiction that began with legal pain killers for a condition that developed during pregnancy ultimately led to a heroin addiction. Her husband also became entangled in the downward spiral of addiction and lost his life to an overdose. After getting in trouble with the law and having her children taken away, Chrystal decided to make a change and get clean.
Chrystal had been sober for three years when she sought care at the Albrecht Free Clinic because her employer did not offer health insurance. The clinic provider treated Chrystal’s illness, and she was also referred to the clinic dentist for dentures since she had lost most of her teeth due to her prior drug use. After several visits, she had a healthy, happy smile and a brand-new set of teeth.
During another clinic visit, Chrystal shared her frustration that because of her criminal record, she had not been able to pursue her dream of becoming a counselor. Clinic staff set up a meeting with the Ozaukee County sheriff who suggested she become a peer support specialist, and with support from Senator Duey Strobel, the course that Chrystal needed to take for that position was offered locally.
Chrystal completed the course and was offered the peer support specialist position with Wisconsin Community Services where she supports individuals in crisis due to life events, such as suicide attempts and mental health hospital stays. She was recently asked to launch a new program that works with hospital emergency rooms to offer support to patients admitted for drug abuse or overdose.
Chrystal is grateful for the Albrecht Free Clinic’s support. “They are the most caring people,” she said. “They felt like family and were interested in what was going on in my life. I would not be in the role I am today if not for their help. They gave me my smile back!”
The Albrecht Free Clinic has provided free medical and dental care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured residents of Washington County since 1996. Health care providers, nurses and volunteers donate their time and expertise to help improve the health and quality of life of patients. The clinic has a strong partner in Froedtert West Bend Hospital, which provides support through laboratory and diagnostic tests, case management, grants and other donated clinical services.