For More Information... If you have any questions about Meriter's community initiatives, please contact Meriter Community Relations at (608) 417-5620.
Million Dollar Baby
"The excitement & anticipation that we felt before the birth of our 4th child was dampened when I went in to labor at 23 weeks," recalls Gina. Having just moved to the area, Gina and her husband Jay had not yet established with a local obstetrician. Luckily, they found themselves at Meriter. The physicians were able to stop Gina's labor, but within a week she had to have an emergency Caesarean. When their daughter, Liza, was born 15 weeks early, she weighed a meager 1lb 5oz. "We were told to expect her to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until her due date which was over 3 months...How could we handle the enormous hospital bill? What about our other young children?" Gina and Jay have a strong faith that kept them supported during these challenging times. "God didn't provide us with answers all at once, but he did provide grace, peace and strength for each day." The family prayed every day and their church prayed with them, for the health of their daughter and for help through their financial troubles. "Knowing our funds were limited, we thought it only right that they give us a lower level of care. What if it was God's will that a baby this small should survive? The medical team did not care about our ability to pay, they would give us their best." One day, Gina and Jay walked in to the financial department, and they were immediately greeted by staff who let them know they were here to help. Soon, Gina and Jay were approved for total financial assistance, nearly $1 million. And now, their energies could solely be focused on their daughter.
Liza's time in the NICU was a roller-coaster ride for her family, with a quickly changing condition, her weight fluctuating, and pneumonia developing in Liza's tiny lungs. Gina and Jay met with Liza's medical team and had to discuss things no parent wants to consider, what would they do if Liza went in to cardiac arrest or if her lungs collapsed? Luckily, this discussion was never realized as Liza began to grow. Her weight increased and although she still struggled with breathing, she continued to need less oxygen support. As her original due date approached, they thought she would continue to need oxygen support at home yet to everyone's surprise, Liza passed her oxygen tests. "We were thrilled to take our precious daughter home after 16 weeks in the NICU- no oxygen – no handicaps – 8 whole pounds of baby to love and cuddle! A normal, happy baby, nothing short of a miracle straight from God!"
I Owe Them My Life
Mike was struggling with stress at work and his health was starting to suffer. In his early 60's, Mike had no thoughts of retiring but he knew he needed a break. After many conversations with his wife, they decided that Mike should take a break from work so he could get his stress-level back to normal. When he started to feel like himself again, he would go back to work. But even away from work, Mike didn't feel any better. Finally, his wife convinced him he needed to see a doctor. This visit led to what felt like an avalanche of appointments and then procedures to deal with a dangerous heart valve condition. When Mike left his job, he lost his health insurance. "I was only planning a brief break. I had no idea that I was so ill," Mike recalls. Furthermore, his medical condition will prevent him from working again. "This was not part of the plan. I wasn't ready for retirement, not mentally and definitely not financially."
Mike and his wife met with Meriter-UnityPoint Health's Financial Assistance staff to work on their options. Meriter connected Mike and his wife to another community organization, ABC for Health. Together, they were able to identify that Mike was eligible for programs that would help him with his medical bills. Additionally, Meriter staff advocated for Mike with additional programs, and Mike eventually received a full reduction in his bill. "My bills were making me more stressed and depressed. My health condition is on-going so there is more to come. I didn't know what to do and this was taking a bigger toll on my wife. I was scared she was going to get sick too. But when I got the call that my bill was taken care of, well that was like miracle medicine! Our stress about my medical bills is gone." Mike is grateful for the work that Meriter-UnityPoint Health's financial assistance staff invested in helping him through his struggles. "I think it is rare to find people who really go above and beyond their jobs. But they certainly do at Meriter, those people have heart. I would not be here if it wasn't for them. I owe them my life."
Looking Forward, With Hope
"When you are facing aging and illness, things can get rough," recalls Matt. For years, Matt managed chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, Matt's health took a turn for the worse when he developed a severe infection and then needed surgery. Matt was now 65 and moved into Medicare. He no longer had drug benefits, so the medications he needed were not covered. Matt's financial nest egg quickly dwindled. "Between my hospitalizations and my medications, my bills were overwhelming me." Having always managed his expenses, Matt started to feel desperate, "I considered selling my car, my one possession, in order to live. It seemed my only option." When things were looking the worst for Matt, he received a call from Yvonne, one of Meriter's financial counselors who told him about the Capitol Care Plan, a program organized by Save Our Security (SOS) and Meriter. The Capitol Care Plan helps eligible seniors reduce their personal expenses for Medicare A & B medical expenses."Before I was in Capitol Care, things were bleak," Matt recalls, "Everything seems to be sliding downhill. Then Yvonne stepped in and pointed me in this direction. Her help, this program and Meriter changed my future. Yvonne was a godsend, a savior." Today, Matt is continuing to work on improving his health and is feeling better every day. "I got the help I needed and now I can look forward with hope."
Soon after his arrival in Madison and being newly homeless in the community, Stacey met Carlos, RN with Meriter's Helping Educate and Link the Homeless, or HEALTH, program. Stacey was dealing with multiple health concerns as well as the stress and uncertainty of being homeless. "My blood pressure was out of control and I felt really bad. Carlos helped me understand I needed medications to be well." Carlos also helped Stacey find suitable shelter and connected him to vital services, one of the key factors of the HEALTH program. "Carlos helped me understand what I needed to do and helped me get there." Today, Stacey is in housing and making great strides. "Because of HEALTH and Carlos, I have been able to be stable. My blood pressure is under-control and I am taking my medications every day. Without this program, I would have been lost."
This Event Changes Us All
Providing more than 3500 patients with free dental care in a 2-day period is no small feat. Yet, this is what happened at Madison's Mission of Mercy, a Wisconsin Dental Association event. "We could not have done this event without the partnership with Meriter," recalls local program chair and area dentist, Allison Dowd, DDS. "From financial help, supplies, access to staff, dental resources, medical back-up, and connections to additional resources, Meriter magically made things happen."
Because of the teamwork, Madison's Mission of Mercy was the largest event of its kind ever held in the nation. "The WDA's Mission of Mercy helps patients who cannot access care because they don't have insurance or cannot afford the care they need. Safety net programs like Meriter's Max W. Pohle Dental Clinic and others in and around Madison are doing all they can to address the community's need but demand outpaces available resources. As a volunteer run event, the Mission of Mercy can help bring relief to patients who are struggling to get care by treating cavities, pulling teeth, and treating infections. The Mission of Mercy also provides preventative care and education.
"It is easy to forget that for some people dental care is a luxury. It hits home when you see a 20-year-old patient who had most of his teeth pulled due to rampant cavities, and he is crying because he is happy to be free of pain. Patients and volunteers both get an experience of compassion that they are not soon to forget this event changes us all. With Meriter's help, we were able to bring this to more people than ever before."