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Meet Juanita Tillery.

Written By : Tabitha Hale
November 2, 2009

Juanita Tillery is an 88 year old WWII Army Nurse veteran suffering from dementia. She is currently residing in The Hamptons in Houston full time assisted living  in Houston, Texas. Her daughter, Linda Oursler, lives in Franklin, Tennessee and has been handling her mother’s affairs.
Juanita’s care is paid for by the VA. Or, well, it was. Back in July, Linda received a letter from the VA stating that they needed a record of Juanita’s medical expenses for the year, just as they do every year, and that if they were not received by the end of August, the benefits would be cut off. Linda complied. The requested paperwork was delivered, certified, to the St. Paul VA office at 9:44am on August 24th.

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However, apparently they didn’t communicate very well. Linda is the fiduciary, and since she lives in Tennessee, they should have told her to send it to the VA’s Milwaukee office. Easy enough fix for a problem that they created, right? Send it over to the Milwaukee office and be done?

No.

On September 11th, Linda received a letter explaining that the benefits had been cut off because the letter hadn’t been received. Linda is, and has been, paying out of pocket for her mother’s care, and as of this month has drained her savings account trying to keep her mother in hospice. She spoke with Alex in the Nashville VA office, who acknowledged the oversight on the part of the VA. She has Rep. Culberson’s office working on the situation as well, contacting the VA on her behalf. She has faxed necessary paperwork to the St. Paul office, the Milwaukee office, and the Houston office. Each office has told her that they have everything they need, and the St. Paul office told Linda that everything should be resolved by October 27th.

It’s still not resolved.

When I spoke with Linda, she was completely at a loss. “If they don’t fix this, my 88 year old mother, who has dementia, will be out on the street,” she said. They simply don’t have the $4k to take care of the monthly expenses. And really, how many people do?

This is bureaucracy at it’s finest. The government is not capable of streamlining anything. Nothing has ever been put in their care and come out more efficient and less expensive. And patients and their families suffer for it.

Juanita Tillery is simply not a priority – she’s just another file on their desks, waiting to be processed. Three months at $4k a month means nothing. Unfortunately, efficiency matters in health care and sometimes people can’t sit around for 3 months – that can cost lives.

Welcome to the Age of Compassion, folks. We’ll help you until you’re a liability.

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