For 20 years, Althea Elliott’s comprehensive beneﬁts package has allowed her family to get the healthcare they need while also opening the door for her to further her education, advance her career and become a U.S. citizen.
From 1990 to 1997, Althea Elliott worked at least two jobs at a time and barely made enough money to house her family. Then the Jamaican-born immigrant landed an entry-level position at Beth Israel Hospital and became a member of 1199SEIU. She’s accomplished many things thanks to the benefits of her Union membership, including becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) and a U.S. citizen. Her training benefits paved the way for Althea to graduate from college, earn an advanced degree and rise through the ranks at Beth Israel, gaining the necessary experience to move up through a combination of coursework and practical application. In addition, she took advantage of our 1199SEIU Citizenship Program and officially fulfilled a lifelong dream when she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen last year.
The opportunities for growth in the healthcare field are expanding—and Althea fully intends to keep using her benefits as an avenue for achievement. “I could not have become a nurse in Jamaica,” she said. “I will be forever thankful to 1199SEIU and to all of our employers for recognizing what we have to offer and investing in our futures.”
As impressive as they are, her accomplishments may not have been possible without the preventive care Althea accessed through the years to help her stay well—and the acute care she received to treat both of her eyes. “I had to have bilateral cataract surgery and underwent my first operation about 10 years ago,” she said. “I had the second eye done last year, but because of my healthcare coverage, I didn’t have any worries.”
Having been at the now-merged Mount Sinai Beth Israel for two decades, Althea credits her consistent healthcare benefits with giving her peace of mind, reducing her stress level and helping her establish a relationship with her doctors, especially her primary care physician. That bond has motivated her to improve her habits, she said, like making sure to schedule her screenings and annual wellness visit, eating healthier, exercising and taking advantage of our Wellness Member Assistance Program and Outreach Department’s health fairs and workshops.
“I have friends who can’t afford the care and the prescription medications that they need,” Althea said. “But with my Benefit Fund, I can rest easy knowing that number one, I’m covered; and number two, I have access to all sorts of free wellness programs and services.”
Her daughter has also benefited from Althea’s family coverage. She’s been able to keep her chronic allergies largely under control, Althea said, although the young girl has required steroid shots twice to treat severe outbreaks. “I don’t know where we’d be if I’d never joined such a great union and got access to quality care,” Althea concluded. “We wouldn’t be as healthy, that’s for sure!”
What Do Your Benefits Mean to You?
You count on your health benefits to support you in your efforts to stay healthy, whether it’s by getting regular checkups, keeping a chronic condition under control or just improving your lifestyle in general. But has there ever been a time when your health coverage literally saved your life or the life of a loved one? If so, we’d like to hear from you. To share your story with your fellow members in an upcoming issue of For Your Benefit, please contact the Funds at [email protected].
Russell Smith credits his 1199SEIU health benefits with helping save his life after a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Working to improve the health of those in her community, RN Heidi Espinal credits her benefits with helping her protect her own mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a trying year—both physically and emotionally—MaryGrace Colobong reflects on the peace of mind her 1199SEIU health benefits afforded her.