Bubba was born profoundly mentally retarded. He is legally deaf and blind, and he has cerebral palsy and scoliosis.
Bubba has a feeding pump 24 hours a day. That means someone has to make sure he is at a 45 degree angle so that he won’t aspirate. Some one also has to make sure he does not pull the tube out. He has chest percussions every 2 to 4 hours night and day. He has to be suctioned several times a day. If he coughs or swallows the wrong way, someone has to help him immediately. He needs transferring from bed to a chair; he needs to be bathed.
About 13 years ago, Bubba was abused in a nursing home in Oklahoma. Bubba’s mother, Patty, was able to get that nursing home closed. Since then, she promised herself that he would never have to go to a nursing home again – that she would do whatever she had to do to keep him at home. Bubba is now 22 years old and a little over 6 feet tall.
Bubba was discharged from Vanderbilt Hospital in February 2002. The doctor ordered home health services. He was discharged with the understanding that the home health services would be in place. Weeks later, Bubba was still not getting home health services. Because of Bubba’s health needs, someone has to be awake and with him at all times. Patty had a teenage daughter still living at home. They both took turns watching Bubba. This was very difficult as Patty’s daughter was still in high school. They struggled to watch Bubba 24 hours per day, then Patty suffered two minor heart attacks. Someone told her about the Tennessee Justice Center and the Grier consent decree.
They appealed. They got some nursing services. Then in August, Patty was hospitalized in Nashville. Bubba’s nurses agreed to work overtime to care for him while Patty was in the hospital, but Bubba’s managed care organization said no. Bubba’s doctor said he would have to hospitalize Bubba if they could not get home health services for him. Bubba is terrified of hospitals because of the abuse he endured at the nursing home. Patty was afraid for his life if he had to be hospitalized. And she was dealing with the stress of her own illness. Tennessee Justice Center came to their rescue. They helped them appeal and they were able to get the nursing hours so that Bubba did not have to go to a hospital. After that the doctors discovered that Patty’s heart was in really bad shape. She had open heart surgery. It was such a relief for her to know that Bubba had the care he needed at home while she was hospitalized. That would not have been possible without their appeal rights. Families like Patty’s need the Grier consent decree and organizations like Tennessee Justice Center to help them.