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Saturday, Sep 23, 2017
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Library rape victim about to be hurt by bureaucracy

Outside of close family and friends, the rest of us know her only as "the Bloomingdale library attack victim.'' You've read and heard the stories about how she was attacked, raped and beaten that night in April 2008. She was left to die in the dark behind the book drop. But she did not die. She was still alive when they found her. Her body shattered, she was taken to Tampa General, where a coma was induced. Following that, she has been unable to speak, see, use her arms or legs or sit up without assistance. She finally went home and has been receiving care through Children's Medical Services.
Last year, her attacker was found guilty and is in a cell awaiting sentencing. Time moves slowly in the system. But time also moves on in the world of the young woman. Next month she will turn 21. It's a time of life that not too long ago seemed so full of promise for this bright and beautiful woman. She was an outstanding student. Her future was limitless and you only can imagine what it would have been like on her coming 21st birthday as she came home from one of the great universities she could have attended. Instead, her family anticipates the birthday with dread. Their daughter was attacked two days after her 18th birthday. That is important because, by Medicaid rules, she will be transitioned from CMS to adult Medicaid services. Under those rules, the only complete medical care provided is through a nursing home. I wrote about this recently and about how a small group of volunteers was working to get some kind - any kind - of waiver to get her the continuing help she is going to require and allow her to remain at home with her parents, who both have disabilities of their own.   * * * * *   As you already know or could have guessed, options and funding resources are scarce. One item the group is after is a shower commode chair. There is much more and it is a long list, but you get the idea. The family and her supporters would like an exception to something called the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program. She has been on the potential waiver list for two years but there seems to be little movement. The group's members have written and appealed to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. Castor has written a letter of her own. They also have gone to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. They've talked to lobbyists in Tallahassee and sent formal appeals to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), asking for a waiver. Everything has been denied. About their last chance seems to be Gov. Rick Scott stepping in, although the rules on that happening are a little hazy.   * * * * *   I don't know the answer. The twisting corridors and murky rules of health care with its agencies and bureaucracies are daunting. All I know is there is a young woman whose life has been salvaged, and there is a family that desperately is fighting at least to keep her close to home, where she can be loved as well as cared for. Maybe someone out there who understands this system better than the small group that is trying so hard has an answer. I'm betting there is one. Call or email me with any thoughts.  
sotto@tampatrib.com   (813) 259-7809
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