Neediest Families: Health costs deplete family's savings
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2012
12/20/12 at 8:04 AM
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Heather Houston is glad doctors found out what was wrong with her daughter, but the cost of her care has put the family in a tight financial situation.
Her daughter, 16-year-old Lexi Gravil, went into labor the day before Thanksgiving. She delivered the baby via emergency Cesarean section and soon after became severely ill.
For four days, doctors struggled to diagnose her. An infectious disease specialist was called in, and an abscess was found in her abdomen.
She had surgery to drain it and was released two weeks after going to the hospital.
"It was really, really hard not knowing what was wrong with her," Houston said.
Once home, Gravil had to have antibiotics administered through a catheter and required a home health aide to do blood work and change her dressings.
She's doing well now but still hasn't been cleared to return to school.
Houston's health insurance didn't cover much of her daughter's care, and paying for it wiped out her savings and took money normally reserved for rent and utilities.
"It was either pay the rent or pay for a doctor's visit; pay the electric bill or pay for medicine," she said. "I didn't have a choice."
Houston does secretarial work but can work only 30 hours a week.
She didn't get paid for the time she was at the hospital with her daughter.
Without the unexpected medical expenses, she can make ends meet.
"I always work," she said. "I'm not afraid to work. And we normally do just fine."
Without help, Houston won't be able to get any Christmas presents for her daughter, who has asked for jeans, shoes and a curling iron.
They weren't going to put up a Christmas tree but decided that the baby, Lucas, should have one up for his first Christmas.
They haven't been able to afford any trips to see family and show them the baby, Houston said.
"We haven't been this bad off in a very, very long time," she said. "It's hard."
About the Neediest Families Fund Drive
The Neediest Families Fund Drive was established in 1928 to provide assistance to families in need during the holidays and the coming year.
This year's goal is to raise $300,000 by Christmas Eve. Last year's goal was exceeded; $334,888 was raised.
Each Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday through the holiday season, the Tulsa World will spotlight families chosen by The Salvation Army to receive help through this year's fund.
None of the money raised is used for administrative costs.
Cash is not given directly to the families. They are given vouchers for specific needs.
To help families such as the one featured today, send a check or money order to the Neediest Families Fund Drive, in care of the Tulsa World, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102.
Donations are tax-deductible, and donors can be anonymous.
Original Print Headline: Health costs depleting savings of local family
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Heather Houston (left) used her savings and money reserved for normal living expenses to pay for medical expenses for her daughter, Lexi Gravil (right), who became ill following the birth of her son, Lucas. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World