Patricia Kendall has always been a people person.
Known as “the fishlady,” Patricia, a Health Alliance Medicare member from Springfield, Illinois, has written cookbooks and taught fish-cooking classes to share her passion with family, friends, and people she’s never even met.
She’s loved fish since she was a little girl watching her dad catch them at her grandparents’ Minnesota cottage. And she managed her local Jewel-Osco fish department for almost two decades. She teaches in fish earrings and fish slippers and has self-published a series of books. She doesn’t just do it for herself, though. She loves helping and teaching others.
“I never had a publicist,” she says. “But I helped a lot of people, and that’s what I am grateful for.
While she doesn’t expect anything in return, Patricia recognizes helpful people. As a Health Alliance member since 2005 and a Health Alliance Medicare Advantage member for the past year, the fishlady applauds those who have helped her.
“In this day and age, when you have all these big insurance companies, the people at Health Alliance Medicare remain personable,” she says. “They help you without transferring you all around. When I call Member Services, I don’t have to go through endless recordings.
“After a while when you talk to them, you get to know them.”
Patricia knows a thing or two about being personable. She published her cookbooks on her own for eight years before getting help from a local publishing company, binding them on her kitchen table and getting the artwork from her brother. She admits to giving away more cookbooks than she sells and shares free cooking tips with anyone who asks.
‘A Sense of Family’
But even with her cheery outlook, Patricia’s life wasn’t always easy. Family is important to Patricia, and she and her husband of almost 45 years couldn’t have children of their own.
Even so, she worked to make others’ lives happier, healthier, and easier through her cookbooks and classes. Along the way, her niece from the Chicago area stayed with her in Springfield from time to time and brought a special person named Kimberly into Patricia’s life.
After age 5, Kimberly didn’t have parents. So the fishlady did what she does best and offered to help. Kimberly was 21 at the time. “We wanted to give her a sense of family,” Patricia says. “We just thought about how people come and go from your life, so one day, we just asked her how she would like to have parents and a home no matter where she goes in the world.”
Patricia and her husband legally adopted Kimberly, giving her a true home and parents.
“She’s kind of a miracle,” Patricia says. “We couldn’t have raised a better girl.”
Patricia has faced other hardships. In 2011, she had an emergency cardiac ablation, a procedure that corrects heart rhythm problems.
She was worried and scared afterward, not knowing if Health Alliance would pay for the costly procedure. But after a quick call, the Health Alliance staff put Patricia’s mind at ease and took care of the claim.
Word of Mouth
Now, Patricia doesn’t just give tips about fish. She still tells her friends, and strangers, how easy and healthy it is to cook and serve her favorite food, but she also offers a tip or two about health insurance.
“I tell so many people about Health Alliance Medicare,” she says. “My advice to people if they are having anything done is to always call Health Alliance Medicare first. They just really come through for you.”