Leianne has fought tirelessly to ensure that her seventeen-year-old son Matthew receives the care he needs to reach his full potential. At different times in his life, he has battled—and weathered—several health conditions including brain cancer, heart surgery, broken and weak bones, and persistent headaches as a result of his earlier surgeries and treatments.
Because he is covered by TennCare, Matthew receives excellent care from seven different specialists, but he has also faced obstacles with TennCare, which is what brought Leianne to TJC. She received a notice that Matthew was no longer eligible for TennCare despite providing the proper documentation in his renewal packet. Fortunately, this situation was resolved after Leianne and TJC worked together to file an appeal on Matthew’s behalf, and he was once again covered by TennCare.
Leianne hopes her experience fighting for her son’s healthcare will inspire others to work through the system to protect their kids. Speaking of the help she received from TJC, she says, “They have been a godsend. When you are up against a state agency, you feel like it’s David against Goliath – you don’t know if you’ve got anyone to back up what you’re saying or be your advocate – and TJC levels the playing field and makes you feel like you have a chance.”
Leianne says that healthcare advocacy is important because “families need someone to be there and stand up for them if it’s needed.” She believes it is unjust for children to “fall through the cracks” and fail to receive the care they need because of preventable administrative issues. She is especially concerned about the difficulty of navigating the process for parents of children that have complex medical needs, noting that they have enough on their plates and don’t need another battle to fight while caring for a needy child.
Despite the healthcare challenges Matthew has faced, Leianne describes him as a happy kid who enjoys being around other people and “cracking a joke” whenever things get too serious. She notes that now that Matthew is older, he is appreciative of the time and attention he has received from his family. “He’s always quick to give a hug and let you know he loves you,” she says.
Within her community, Leianne makes it a priority to support other families. She participates in multiple church activities, sings in the choir, and assists with Children’s Ministry every week. When she’s not out and about in the community, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their daughter and granddaughter who also reside in the area. Her three older children have often referred to her as a “professional mom.”
For the support and dedication she’s shown to Matthew and her community, TJC is glad to honor Leianne as a 2019 Mother of the Year.