No parent wants to hear their child’s doctor say, “We do not know what is wrong”. Sadly, that is exactly what Quanisha heard when her two-year-old twins, Raphael and Gabriel, started having health complications. Nonetheless, Quanisha has persevered. Quanisha is the mother of three children: the twins and her older son, Ezekiel. She is also the primary caretaker for her elderly mother.
The twins have developing diagnoses. Gabriel and Raphael are two-year old boys with complex healthcare needs related to their vision, hearing, heart, kidney, lungs, ear-nose-throat, dysphagia, and seizures. They have separate identities. Gabriel is the chill and laid back one, Raphael is the overly excited and friendly one. For Quanisha, being a mom of children with special healthcare needs is “different. Things have changed since I first started. I have gone from a mom to a doctor. I am trying my best. I must take it day by day. Some days the nurses don’t come in and sometimes they do. Sometimes they get care, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know what support I will get each day. What I do know is my children.”
Quanisha came to the Tennessee Justice Center when she was overwhelmed by the constant service denials from TennCare. TennCare refused to increase their private duty nursing hours from 50 hours a week to 60 hours a week. They also tried to make the children share one nurse. Quanisha strongly opposed this. The children have separate healthcare needs and need separate nurses. TJC helped her appeal and get an increase in the twins’ hours from 50 hours a week to 60 hours of private duty nursing a week in order. The twins also now have separate nurses. The twins have developing diagnoses and it is vital they receive quality care without delays. Quanisha jokingly says, “I have learned so much in two years from dealing with medical providers. I could have lots of jobs from insurance to counseling to phone telemarketer to money recycler to maid.” She ensures they get the care they require despite the barriers put in place by the TennCare system.
TJC tries to alleviate the burdens and help caregivers like Quanisha navigate the complex system. She says this work is important because “[a] lot of people don’t understand what you go through when you care for two children with special health care needs. No one understands and they think you’re simply making up excuses. Sometimes you have to miss multiple days or even weeks of work and people do not understand.” Due to her children’s complex needs, she often has to take personal time off and short-term leave to care for them. The twins have had multiple surgeries and have more in the coming months. She hopes to take her children on a family vacation someday once her children’s health conditions are stable.
TJC is proud to announce Quanisha Booker as a 2022 Mother of the Year. She is a fierce advocate for her children and stops at nothing to get her children the care they deserve.
Photographs by Lisa Link