From the valley to the mountaintop: IEHP member climbs way to healthier life

Turning 50 years old was a milestone that Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) member, Chanel W. thought she might never make. But, with a lot of personal hard work and the help of the "health plan with a heart,” today, she has reason to celebrate that special birthday and so much more.

It was just a few years ago that Chanel reached the lowest valley of her life. Pummeled by a series of health challenges, she faced a long list of setbacks, including: 

  • Back and neck injuries, causing a lack of exercise/movement
  • Weight gain to 330 pounds
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Mental health struggles

With her health deteriorating, Chanel eventually lost her job. Then, in 2021, she became homeless and had to give up her best friend - a Chihuahua named Pedro. As her health issues compounded and spiraled beyond control, Chanel was in dire need of medical attention. Without a permanent address or health insurance, however, she worried she’d be left out in the cold. 


With the help of IEHP, Chanel was enrolled into Medi-Cal and connected to life-changing services, such as: 

  •  Primary care and specialist care
  • Transportation
  • IEHP's 24/7 Nurse Advice Line

IEHP representatives reached out to Chanel regularly to ensure she took her medications as prescribed. She was also connected with a support group, counseling and spiritual care.

“IEHP social workers saved my life,” Chanel emphasized. “They cared about me – they really did. And that made me not want to disappoint them, too.” 

Flash forward two years to today (2023), Chanel has accomplished some amazing feats. She went from:

  • Weighing 330 pounds to 205 pounds.
  • Visiting the Emergency Room 22 times/year to 2 times/year.
  • Walking 0 miles/day to 5-6 miles/day.

Best of all, Chanel is off the streets and living in stable housing. In fact, she and Pedro – her furry walking partner – were just reunited in April!


Mountain climbing! While some people may think of 50 years old as more the middle of life’s path, for Chanel, it’s only the beginning. Her next milestone is to take the beautiful hike up to the top of Riverside’s Mount Rubidoux.

She even keeps a photo of the mountain on her phone for motivation, as tangible proof that – like overcoming homelessness, runaway weight gain and life-threatening health issues – she can accomplish anything. 

“I’m going to do it,” she said, smiling. “I know I can.” 

-To learn how IEHP can help you, visit www.iehp.org or speak with an IEHP Enrollment Advisor at (866) 294-4347, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. TTY users should call (800) 720-4347.