Changing Lives

​Jerry's StoryJerry Linsom Picture.jpg​​In 2005, Jerry began using a wheelchair because of a car accident. In August of 2019 Jerry was hit by a car while he was in his wheelchair. He was taken to the hospital where he found out that during the accident he broke his humerus bone in his leg and a bone in his shoulder.​ ​Four days later Jerry was in surgery and by the end of the month Jerry was placed in a nursing home. 

In January of 2020, the social worker at Jerry’s nursing facility approached him about the Take Me Home (TMH) Transition program. The social worker connected him with TMH Transition Coordinator, Josh Phillips, who coordinates TMH transitions in the eastern panhandle area of the state. At the time, Jerry did not feel ready for the program, but Josh encouraged him to keep in touch and promised to be there to help him when and if he did feel ready to transition to living in the community. 

Jerry was very social in the nursing home, always visiting with his friends in other rooms, ​chatting with the staff and enjoying visits with his girlfriend. This, of course, soon came to an end when after only a few months in the nursing home, the coronavirus global pandemic sent everything into lockdown. Jerry said that life became very isolated very quickly. COVID-19 protocols kept him confined to his room. He remembers sitting at his door watching staff working out in the hallway, not being able to have much of anything to do to keep him occupied. The most difficult part was that he was no longer allowed to receive visitors, including his girlfriend. 

It was during this isolating time that Jerry decided to give Josh a call and began the process of moving back into the community. Jerry reported that he felt that Josh went beyond his expectations in how involved he was in making sure that Jerry had everything he needed to be able to live on his own again. This included things like pots and pans to cook with, towels and bed sheets, and food supplies. In addition to helping him set up his home, Josh also connected Jerry with WV Choice to set up his care for when he transitioned home.

In August of 2020, almost one year to the day of his accident, after living back in the community in his own home for a few months, he and his now wife decided to move from West Virginia and start their new life together in North Carolina. Jerry said that after he transitioned, he kept in touch with his TMH transition coordinator, and Josh gave him resources and connections in North Carolina to help Jerry get set up with what he would need to continue to live in his own home. Jerry is now enjoying living with his wife in the community and says, “Life is good now.” 

​​Christy's Story

It wasn’t until she was four years old that Christy Miller was finally correctly diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder, Retts Syndrome; although she had been showing symptoms from the time she was nine months old. Thanks to the diligent persistence of her parents, Christy has lived a full and happy 42 years and has many more happy years yet to come despite doctors telling her parents there was little chance she would live through her teen years.

Retts Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that disproportionately affects those who are born female. Like most individuals diagnosed with Retts Syndrome, 

Christy Miller photo (1).jpg

Christy appeared to be a happy, healthy, normally developing baby after she was born. Then at about nine months old, her mother, Judy, noticed that she began regressing in some of the skills she had been developing. Although she is non-verbal, Christy was able to get around on her own until October of 2017 when she began to develop dystonia. This made it more difficult for Christy to be able to get around on her own. Her parents needed more help and Christy’s care giver’s hours kept being cut back. All of this caused her parents to make the difficult decision to put Christy in a nursing home to receive care.

Christy’s mother Judy said that Christy was immediately depressed and anxious about being away from home, even though her parents stayed very involved in her life and care at the nursing home, visiting her almost every day to check on her care. 

When the coronavirus global pandemic began to shut down access to nursing homes across West Virginia, Christy became even more lonely and depressed in isolation. For ten months her family was unable to visit. Thanks to the kindness of Christy’s nurses at the nursing home, her parents would facetime her as often as they could. However, because of Retts Syndrome, Christy was unable to understand that her parents were on the phone and would become distressed that she could hear their voices but could not find them there with her. Her distress and depression were compounded when, three different times throughout that ten month period, Christy was required to quarantine for 14 days because of possible exposure to the coronavirus. While in quarantine she was in a room completely alone and only saw caregivers who, following proper safety protocols, would enter her room in a full sterile gown and mask outfit. Again, because of Rett’s Syndrome, Christy could not understand the strange outfits or recognize her caregivers and was very afraid of the look of the caregiver’s protective gear.

​​Christy’s parents finally made the decision to transition Christy home to be with family during the pandemic. They chose to work with the Take Me Home Transition Program to help facilitate Christy’s transition. Due to the coronavirus global pandemic, the entire transition process had to be completed remotely, which provided several difficulties. Christy’s mother said she was thankful for Christy’s transition coordinator, Paula, who helped to guide them through the process. She said that Paula continuously advocated for Christy throughout her transition and was the glue that kept everyone who was necessary to the process connected during a difficult time.

 Christy’s mother said that the smile on Christy’s face the day she came home made all of the work put into the transition process worth it. When Christy first got home she still had some anxiety from her experience in isolation, but has since come back out of her shell. Christy is now cracking jokes, smiling, and laughing. She is enjoying attending church and visiting with friends.

 “Nothing can replace the love and support a family, or a community can give.” Christy’s mother Judy Foss says, “It can be a scary and difficult process, but it is worth it and I wouldn’t trade having Christy home for anything.”

Tammy's Story

TammysStory.jpgTammy is a 49-year-old woman.  She is a ray of sunshine and hope.  She is Mother of one and a Grandmother of four.  She is an Aunt who loves to spoil her nieces and nephews.  She is a lady whose whole life was turned upside down. She is a miracle.

Tammy woke up on Sunday morning, a week before her 48th birthday with severe stomach cramping, vomiting, and extreme weakness.  She was not one to go to the ER or the doctor over illnesses such as a stomach virus, but this particular morning, she made the decision to go.  She called her son and asked him to take her to the ER.  He contacted 911 to assist her down the stairs and out of her home.   The EMT workers proceeded to take her vitals on the way to the hospital but her blood sugar would not read on the monitor; it was over 600. Once at the hospital, she asked to use the restroom and when turned to get out of the bed, the nurse noticed a sore on her back.  Tammy had no idea what it was or where it had come from.  She was sent to X-ray and was immediately diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) and her blood sugar was up to 1100.  That was the last thing she remembered.  She was kept in a coma for over a day because of the extensive surgery that had to occur to remove skin and tissue from her entire abdominal area, one side to the other.  The doctors informed her family she wouldn’t make it through surgery. She did. The doctors then informed her family she wouldn’t survive after the surgery. She did. The doctors informed Tammy it would take a year to a year and a half to heal.  It took her six months.  Tammy is a miracle.

Tammy then set a goal to get out of the nursing home before her next birthday.  She became impatient many times and frustrated with her location and situation.  She was placed in McDowell Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 3 ½ hours away from her home. Why, because this was the only nursing home in the State who would agree to take her from the hospital due to the extensive treatment and care she required. She wanted to come home, but she soon came to realize that things happen for a reason.  During her time at the nursing home, she developed strong friendships with the nursing and rehabilitation staff.  She considered, and still considers, them family. She built up her strength, she had plastic surgery, she received treatment for an infected toe, and she was approved for her Social Security Disability after the first application during her time at the nursing home.  Every time she pushed and cried to go home, she had the support of her team, including her Transition Coordinator, encouraging her to complete the program and receive the assistance she needed once she returned home. She has stated “Sam made it happen”; her transition coordinator made sure she returned home before her next birthday.

Tammy has reported her life has changed in so many ways.  For instance, she has to have so many medications just to get by during the day.  She can no longer work but she now has the time and opportunity to visit with family and do things with them she was unable to do before her hospitalization.  Her biggest struggle is adjusting to what she can and cannot do but she continues to push herself to get better.

When it was asked of Tammy what she would tell someone who wants to return to their own home in the community, she stated, “No. 1: work the program. No. 2: Listen-those that are helping have knowledge of the program.  Sam was up front with the process and timelines and he didn’t sugarcoat anything.  He was very knowledgeable of all things and very helpful” She also added, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, there are no dumb questions”.

One of the final things Tammy had to say was, “it can be scary to be back home, but I just have to take things one day at a time”.
Davids Story.jpgDavid's Story

David is a 51-year-old man who has survived some hard knocks life has thrown at him. 

His story began in 2012.  He was working as a delivery driver for an auto parts store. In route to a delivery in Ohio, he was rear-ended by someone going over 70 mph.  He ended up with a spine and neck injury and extreme weakness in his legs, to which, the doctors are still unable to determine why. He had neck surgery in 2013 and again in 2017 and months of therapy in between.  After the first surgery, he went back to work but then was diagnosed with neuropathy, began losing his balance and had to use a cane to walk.  He was referred to a Neurologist at WVU who ordered an MRI and a spinal tap.  They found a lesion on his spine that was originally thought to be a tumor that ended up being benign. During this uncertain time regarding his medical health, his wife made the decision to file for a divorce and left him along in their apartment with no supports or resources.  He returned to his hometown close to family but was turned away by his brother and sister-in-law.  His only option was to enter a homeless shelter.  David lived in the homeless shelter for a year until the day he fell in the shower.  He was transported to the hospital but upon discharge the shelter then considered him a liability and would not allow him to return.  He was sent to Willow’s Center in Parkersburg, West Virginia.  For the next year and half, he lived in this nursing home where he felt insignificant and out of place.

David wanted to be in his own home where he felt like he had independence and felt like he was somebody again. His first ex-wife referred him to the Take Me Home Transition Program.  He reported the transition went smooth and he has not had any complaints. His Transition Coordinator, Autumn, made sure everything was set up and was very helpful. David and his team are self-directing his services and he gave credit to his ex-wife as being a huge support.  She provided assistance with finding staff and helping him find his own home. He now has the support of a staff person 7 days a week and has been receiving therapy in the home to continue building up his strength.  He wants to be able to walk again.  He has gone from walking and working to not being able to get out of his wheelchair without a Hoyer lift.

When David was asked what he would tell someone who wants to return to their own home in the community, he said, “Give it a try.  I went into the program not knowing what to expect but you just have to do it and see how it works out”.

David reported he “takes things one day at a time”.
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