Happy hearts

Cottage Grove | January 10, 2018
Family follows instinct to seek heart care for their little one

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.”- Helen Keller

When it was discovered that a little girl living in Cottage Grove, Oregon, had a heart in need of repair, she was embraced by a community that stepped forward to help make her well.

Four-year-old Alicia’s mother and father knew something wasn’t right with their little girl’s health, but the family had recently immigrated to the United States from Guatemala and didn’t know where to turn. That’s when they were connected with the South Lane School District Family Resource Center program called “Peggy’s Primary Connection.”

This organization’s partnership with PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center’s Community Health Worker program helps remove barriers to care by ensuring kids have adequate food and shelter, and access to family and health services.

The family’s instincts about Alicia’s condition were right. She was diagnosed with a heart abnormality and needed immediate care. During this challenging time, PeaceHealth Community Health Coordinator Ana-Maria Dudley played a vital role in helping the family make appointments with pediatric cardiology specialists, and apply for medical coverage and services.

“When I first came here, I thought she would live with this problem all her life,” Alicia’s father explained. “But when I found Ana-Maria at [Alicia’s] school, I told her about my concern for Alicia. She helped us find a doctor here in the hospital who could help.”

Alicia underwent surgery to make her heart well again. Today, she attends elementary school, and her days are filled love, fun and hugs — just as they should be.

The little girl’s heart is mended, and Alicia’s parents’ hearts are filled with gratitude and grace for the support they received, thanks to an invaluable partnership.

“All I can say is thank you to God and everyone for all that has been done,” said Alicia’s mom. “And to all of the doctors and everyone — thank you.”


Since undergoing surgery to correct a heart abnormality, Alicia's life has changed for the better. The little girl’s family received assistance during her treatments through a partnership between PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center and the South Lane School District Family Resource Center program called “Peggy’s Primary Connection.”