Unsure of Where to Turn, Two Women Benefit from MTS Fund
Posted June 27, 2013 in News Category
Suffering from kidney failure and going to dialysis treatments since September of 2011, Geraldyne Sims was facing a barrier to being listed for a kidney transplant. The 61-year-old St. Louisian learned she needed dental work before transplant physicians could add her to the waiting list.
Retired since 2009, Geraldyne explained to the dentist, doctors and social workers at Saint Louis University Hospital that she didn’t have the resources to pay for oral surgery. This year, she became one of 40 individuals to benefit from the MTS Recipient Fund, an emergency fund created by Mid-America Transplant Services to assist pre- and post-transplant patients at the four transplant centers in St. Louis: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, Saint Louis University Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“I felt so good,” Geraldyne said of the moment she received the one-time grant for the dental work.
“Somebody was thinking about me. I knew the oral surgery was something
I had to have done to be listed, and I just didn’t have the money for it.
Thank you.” — Geraldyne
Geraldyne’s story isn’t uncommon, unfortunately. Barbara Ford is a kidney recipient from Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The 70-year-old retiree from Brighton, Illinois received her transplant in January of 2013. After the surgery, she learned her Medicare coverage did not include the total cost of the post-transplant medication. “I was a diabetic after the transplant. I had steroid diabetes. And the medicine was very expensive for the first few weeks after the transplant. I could not afford to pay for it,” said Barbara, who was on dialysis for about two years before receiving a transplant. “I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I had to have this medicine, but I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I really appreciate MTS helping me.”
The Fund, which was established in 2011, is designed to help defray the out-of-pocket living and medical expenses associated with transplantation. Its usage has more than doubled in 2013. In its inaugural year, MTS approved 20 applications, providing $12,000 in benefits. Through May of 2013, MTS has approved 40 applications for $51,000 in benefits. Assistance, which is based on need as determined by social workers in the transplant centers, has helped pre- and post-transplant patients pay utility bills, mortgages, rent, medications, rental fees for refrigerators to keep medications cool, dental work, insurance premiums, traveling expenses, and, in the case of living donors, lost wages.
“When the MTS Board was looking at ways to give back to our local community, a financial need within our local transplant community was identified,” said Merry Smith, Director of MTS’s Center for Life. “They realized not only could we continue to provide bereavement support to Donor Families, but financial assistance to Transplant Recipients as well. These are the families who lives are impacted directly by our mission.”
The Fund is filling an unmet need in the transplant community. “We serve, in the world of organ transplant, the average Joe,” said Rebecca Bathon, a lung transplant social worker at BJH. “There are a lot of out of pocket expenses for patients when it comes to medical care and those are huge financial burdens for folks. Having this resource available is tremendous, and having a process that works easily is a huge benefit to the transplant community. It’s nice to see MTS fill this gap.”
At Saint Louis University Hospital, the Fund provides an additional resource when many are already exhausted. “It’s meant a lot to our transplant center, especially our post-kidney transplant patients,” said Nick Beltran, an abdominal transplant social worker at Saint Louis University Hospital. “Generally, we are a last resort for our patients. Our patients will contact other community organizations that can assist them. Sometimes, there’s nothing they can find. We always tell them that we’re here as a resource to help them.”