Pain, Perseverance and Patience:
Michelle’s Story

In early 2022, Michelle Rosser, a Los Angeles resident and mother of three, began to experience persistent pain and discomfort. Concerned about her worsening symptoms, she sought medical care, marking the beginning of a challenging journey through the health care delivery system. Further examinations revealed multiple health issues, including high blood pressure and chronic pain, leading to a complex path of appointments, referrals and miscommunications.

Initial Diagnosis and the Struggle for Proper Care

Michelle’s health concerns required numerous appointments, tests and referrals, highlighting the fragmented nature of the health care system. Michelle’s chronic pain, high blood pressure and weight management issues compounded her challenges. “I have two bad hips now, not just one. I had to wait three months to go to physical therapy,” she said. The delays in receiving appropriate care and referrals left Michelle feeling stuck and discouraged.

The Pain of Navigation and Lack of Support

Navigating the health care system was a daunting task. “It takes a long time to get an appointment,” Michelle said. She describes feeling as though her concerns were not taken seriously and that she lacked information to support her care. “I needed an MRI in order to get a referral for pain management for my back. That was the missing piece throughout a year that had passed by.”

The lack of proper communication and follow-through left Michelle feeling neglected and unheard, and exacerbated her physical and mental health struggles. “I kind of got lost in my mental health,” she says, reflecting on the additional strain her health struggles placed on her emotional well-being. The constant battle to get the care she needed only intensified these mental health issues, creating a cycle that was hard to break.

Embracing Patient Feedback: A Turning Point

Michelle experienced a significant improvement in her health care experience after completing a patient feedback survey from her health plan. “I got a flier in the mail so I filled it out. When they [Michelle’s health plan] got involved, everything came into play — I got the referrals, I got to see my doctor,” she recalled. Being given a channel to be heard, advocate for herself and provide valuable feedback to her health plan about her experience helped shape her care plan, becoming a turning point for Michelle — illustrating the power of patient feedback mechanisms and their ability dramatically enhance health care services.

Finding Community and Advocacy

While seeking community resources, Michelle connected with the California Quality Collaborative’s Equity and Quality at Independent Practices in LA County (EQuIP-LA), a quality improvement collaborative for small, independent primary care practices and IPAs serving Medi-Cal enrollees of color in Los Angeles County. Joining the EQuIP-LA Steering Committee reflects her commitment to her community and her health. “Each time when I go back to the doctor I think about a question from the last committee meeting and then I have an answer,” said Michelle, illustrating how her involvement has influenced her health care approach.

Michelle’s journey is ongoing, but her outlook remains hopeful, “Patience worked for me and staying connected to the health care system while allowing it to work,” she said. She continues to work toward her health goals, including weight management, lifestyle changes and mental health. Her story is a testament to the strength and resilience of patients, underscoring the need for a more supportive and efficient health care system.

Equity and Quality at Independent Practices in LA County

The EQuIP-LA improvement collaborative is dedicated to improving health outcomes and reducing disparities of care for Medi-Cal enrollees of color across Los Angeles. The collaborative supports 31 small, independent primary care practices and independent physician associations (IPAs) with technical assistance that addresses:

  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration. Aligning health care providers, IPAs, payers, community-based organizations and patient advocates to support comprehensive care and address disparities.
  • Capacity building. Providing funding, training and technical support to IPAs and practices to implement and sustain disparities reduction programs. EQuIP-LA uses community-based practice coaches, guided by CQC improvement advisors, to support change interventions.
  • Patient engagement and advocacy. Emphasizing the importance of patient feedback and involvement to ensure responsive and patient-centered care.
  • Data-driven approach. Using data and evidence-based frameworks to identify improvement opportunities and measure impact on health outcomes.

Learn more about EQuIP-LA.