Oct. 6—When over 100 people gather on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Stonington Country Club for the first Andrew Heylmun Invitational golf tournament, they'll gather not only to remember a young man who died too early, but with another purpose in mind.
Heylmun, a Stonington High graduate who grew up and was well-known in town, was 33 years old when he died suddenly in December from an undiagnosed heart condition. His mother, Judy, said he was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Bell's palsy a couple months before he died. His mother said Andrew took the prescribed antibiotics and steroids to treat it, but did not have a primary care physician to follow up with. If he did, "I'm convinced the outcome could have been different."
The lack of a primary care physician is an issue many teenagers and young adults deal with, and there hasn't been an easy solution. Whether the intricacies of the country's health care system, the cavalier attitude of youth, the awkwardness of a doctor's visit, some combination of all or something else, many teens and young adults slip through the cracks.
That's where Paul Julius comes in, hoping to fill that gap.
Julius, a lifleong friend of Heylmun and fellow Stonington native, has founded Amory Health, which is focused on primary care and urgent care through text for teens and 20-somethings.
The idea of the business, according to Julius, is to drive better health and health education for the 13-25 age group that spends nearly eight hours a day on their phone.
"I started Amory Health very much with Andrew in mind," Julius said. "That age group lives through text. The best way is to go to them."
Julius has helped found two other startups, Orthology, which specializes in physical therapy, and Heartbeat Health, which focuses on cardiology.
"The tranistion is terrible in the U.S.," Julius said "When you're a kid you have a pediatrican, but in college you're essentially on your own. The second you turn 18, in some cases you're handed the keys to the castle for your own health insurance and you're not really prepared for that."
Heylmun was very much the picture of health until his death. He played football and was on the crew team at Stonington, where he was voted 'Best Looking' and 'Best Actor' after starring in the school play.
He spent two weeks in Costa Rica in high school, providing education and infrastructure to the indigenous Tico tribe there. As a senior he lobbied unsuccessfully to have the school scale back on its spending for its graduation party.
"That's just how he was," Judy Heylmun said. "He was a very, very caring person. He was literally my best friend."
Heylmun graduated with a degree in business from Southern Connecticut State University and was a well-known server and bartender at several area restaurants before finding a sales job in the health care industry.
"Teen health and 20-something health is very weird," Julius said. "(Hopefully) that's all changing. We have a big opportunity to change perspective. There's been no real investment in that age group and so it's easy to get disenfranchised. There's a really big gap and that should be more consistent. With (Amory Health) it's really, really affordable. For $15-20 a month you can talk to a doctor whenever you want."