Maria Rodriguez

With the help of her coverage, Maria Rodriguez received the care she needed and took control of her health.

Hypertension has been a part of Maria Rodriguez’s life for as long as she can remember. The condition runs in her family, with one of her seven siblings suffering a heart attack and another needing two open-heart surgeries. But when Maria’s 55-year-old brother, Raymond, died after a cardiac arrest in 2013, Maria, a Secretary II at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, knew it was time to have her heart checked. On a co-worker’s recommendation, Maria made an appointment with a doctor, and after a physical exam and an EKG test, the doctor told her that the results were concerning. Two days later, Maria suffered a heart attack.

“I’ll never forget the day it happened,” Maria said. She and her husband, Luis, were in bed when she suddenly felt a burning sensation in her chest. Before her checkup, she would have written the pain off as indigestion, but she knew that it could be something more serious. “Going to the doctor when I did saved my life,” Maria said. Her left artery was 99 percent blocked, and she had to have a stent inserted.

“The benefits
I receive as an 1199SEIU member are amazing. They allowed me to find a doctor who really cared about me and
is committed to helping me live a healthier life.”

Since her heart attack, Maria has worked with her doctor to make lifestyle changes to improve her heart health, like altering her eating habits to include more vitamin-rich vegetables to control her blood pressure. Maria has also started walking during her lunch break three times a week, a low-impact exercise that is easy for her to fit into her busy schedule.

“The benefits I receive as an 1199SEIU member are amazing,” Maria said. “They allowed me to find a doctor who really cared about me and is committed to helping me live a healthier life.” Now, she is feeling better and looking forward to seeing her daughter, Diamond, graduate from college: “I’m so grateful for the second chance my benefits have given me.”

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 Fund at

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Wanda Santiago

After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Wanda Santiago has lost more than 30 pounds through healthier eating and exercise habits, which is helping keep her condition under control.

Tereza Ubinas-Valle

A medical issue during her second pregnancy motivated Tereza Ubinas-Valle to commit to making her health a top priority—for herself and her growing family.

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