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This fundraiser ended on 01/01/11

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The Home 4 Jessica fundraiser will enable her to access the therapy she desperately needs to recover from her Traumatic Brain Injury.

My name is Maryl, I am writing on behalf of my sister Jessica De Milo, who is a victim of a Traumatic Brain Injury. I will be her spokesperson, her mouthpiece in her time of need. About Jessica – Her Personal Profile: Jessica’s personality type is that of the ‘Counselor’, a rare type that comprises a little over one percent of the population. One of her great talents is for language – both written and spoken – which is usually directed toward communicating with people in a very personalized way. Blessed with a vivid imagination, Jessica uses seemingly limitless poetic imagery in her everyday language that draws in her audience and connects with them heart and soul. She’s highly intuitive and can often recognize another's emotions or intentions - good or evil - even before that person is aware of them. Jessica has always had an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and she finds immense personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their potential. While she’s quite happy doing work that requires solitude and close attention (like writing), my sister seems to excel working with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial. My take is that she prefers to work intensely on a one-to-one basis, and although she has many leadership qualities she also prefers to quietly exert her influence behind the scenes. She is both kind and positive in her respectful treatment of others; she’s a great listener and seems naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Jessica highly values genuineness and transparency along with integrity, and she believes wholeheartedly that loving people as God loves them is her second highest priority. Background/History: While attending UM Western in Dillon, MT during her freshmen through junior years Jessica worked full time as an Assisted Living Care Provider and concurrently worked for TRiO (Student Support Services) quickly becoming their first and only Lead Peer Tutor. She was active in UM Western’s Chi Alpha ministries as a peer mentor and Bible study leader. Jessica was also the assistant to the youth pastor at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship for three years and was a home group worship leader. In the fall of ’06 Jessica transferred to the University of Montana, Missoula. While attending the U of M she worked at Disability Services for Student and Mission Valley Christian Academy, a classical private school where she taught Latin, Composition and Formal Logic. Jessica was thoroughly acknowledged for her compassion, dedication and integrity, evidenced in that two of her blind supervisors at DSS hired her to work for them privately and she was nominated by her department for Student Worker of the Year. She was a worship leader for two years at her local Vineyard Church and a participant in U of M Chi Alpha ministries. In the fall of ‘09 She was a 6th year senior, one and a half semesters away from graduating with two degrees; a B.A. in Classical Languages - emphasis Latin (although she was equally well versed in Greek); and a B.A. in English - emphasis Creative Writing. Jessica is a member in good standing of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society with a 3.98 G.P.A. The Accident, Resultant Injury and Interventions: On the morning of November 11th while on her way to her teaching job at MVCA she hit a patch of ice and spun into oncoming traffic. The Missoulian. The only injury that resulted from the accident was a bone crushing impact to Jessica’s right front temporal lobe. She underwent an emergency radical craniotomy at St. Patrick’s Hospital and spent the following 2 months in a deep coma on a respirator receiving nutrition via PEG tube; her climb to consciousness took another month. Slowly she began to respond to Mom’s requests to squeeze her hand and give a thumbs-up, eventually opening her eyes. While no part of her body was paralyzed, she had lost most muscle control/function from the impact and muscle strength from the coma. In February ’09 Jessica was transferred to Village Health Care, a sub-acute rehab/care facility, to prepare her for intense rehab at Community Hospital’s Rehabilitation Institute of Montana. While there she gained a bit more movement on her left side. She was daily brought upright in a standing frame so that she would bear weight. Unfortunately while she’d been at St. Pat’s she developed a heel pressure wound which led to a severe constriction of her Achilles tendon making standing all but impossible. In early April she underwent surgery to correct this problem. Beginning in May 0f 2009 Jessica spent eight weeks at RIM where she received aggressive therapy and made slow, but steady progress. By the end of her stay she was able to do many things with consistent cuing: to move her upper torso and legs while prone in order to ‘bridge’ up and also to balance herself while sitting up at bedside; to follow commands in order to participate in a stand pivot transfer between her bed and wheelchair; to stand up at the parallel bars with assistance for 60 seconds; to grasp, release and manipulate items with her left hand; to communicate simple messages using various forms of hand signals and sign language; and also to speak a few words that were recognizable. It was confirmed that Jessica has severe Dysphasia leaving her at risk of Silent Aspiration, requiring 1:1 feeding of applesauce thick foods, continual cuing and other simple precautions for swallow therapy. All of Jessica’s long-term memory is fully intact although her short-term memory is somewhat inconsistent, but it is improving – and this is critically important because short-term memory is what allows the brain to rewire itself through repetitive therapy to restore function. Jessica has moderate control of the left side of her body accompanied by intention tremors and minimal control of her right side. Jessica also has severe Dysarthria leaving her with very limited speech abilities. Her vocabulary is limited to 30 words that are recognizable, but this too is improving and helped by continuous cuing to use her oral motor muscles. Jessica continues to receive more than half of her caloric intake by nightly PEG tube feeding. In July ’09 Jessica returned to Village with the expectation that consistent therapy would continue to show progress, and initially it did; she had increased her ability to stand up to 2.5 minutes and was beginning to take steps. However, basic aspiration precautions were inconsistently adhered to by CNAs at Village and sadly, within only a few weeks of her return Jessica aspirated ‘foreign matter’ into her lungs. This caused a partial lung collapse and during the time it took to recover, Jessica lost much of the ground she had gained from months of therapy. TBI victims have little to no reserves to overcome additional medical hurdles. Jessica was left with minimal strength, unable to participate in more than the simplest actions. In spite of this setback Jessica continues to confirm to Dr. Ross, her physiatrist, and to my mom that she wholeheartedly wants to engage in therapy. Yet her physical therapist reported that Jessica was turning down her offers for therapy. The PTs opinion was that this was due to depression (for which Jessica’s neuropsychiatrist found no basis – and it was belatedly discovered that during the re-engagement trial period Jessica was being given narcotic pain killers without our consent or knowledge) and Jessica was suspended from therapy. Without consistent therapeutic activity Jessica’s progress slowed to a snail’s pace. My mom, Tejeanne De Milo has been faithfully advocating on my sister’s behalf, augmenting her therapy and she has taken on many of Jessica’s routine ADLs in an understaffed institutional environment. Dr. Ross has requested that my mother’s employers make any feasible concessions to allow her to be in Missoula as much as possible. Her skill as a rehabilitation specialist and her close relationship with Jessica places her in a unique position as a vital and crucial member of Jessica's recovery team. Reducing her work time to 24 hours per week, my mom has commuted 360 miles round trip from Dillon to Missoula weekly for nine months. Along the way there have been several regrettable staff induced complications that took substantial tolls on Jessica. Yet Jessica has well developed and essential character strengths and God, who Jessica is devoted to, has been gracious and merciful to her. Dr. Ross believes that Jessica has very real potential for substantial recovery. While her progress has been slow, Jessica has continued to gain ground whenever her general care and therapies are consistent and assertive. The Complication: In September, while caring for Jessica at Village, my mother was injured; she fractured the bone below her right knee and under doctor’s orders has not been allowed to walk on it. She has struggled to make it up the 2 flights of stairs to my sister’s 3rd floor apartment where she has been staying when she is in Missoula since my sister’s accident. Consequently she has been unable to work and without a paycheck. As you can imagine, this has brought a severe financial hardship to our family. As problematic as my mom’s injury has been, she has seen a silver lining in the clouds. She has been at Village up to 14 hours per day for the past few months supplementing Jessica’s therapies with regularity in every way she can. With routine and repetition applied in all aspects of Jessica’s day the result has been that several RN, CNA and OT staff have commented on witnessing greater improvement across the board in Jessica’s functional abilities and her engagement levels. Not long after my mother’s injury she discovered that once again CNAs were not following the basic aspiration precautions ordered by RIM for Jessica. Village’s administrator told my mother that the CNAs were unable (read – unwilling to utilize their staff resources) to follow these simple guidelines. And so while my mother is off work, she has been at the nursing home three times a day to feed my sister because it is totally unreasonable to allow Jessica to suffer another major setback – or worse – due to inadequate care. The Immediate Impediments: Unfortunately Jessica was underinsured and her primary BC/BS benefits were used up before she even left the ICU. At present she is relying on Medicaid to cover her ongoing and substantial medical costs. However, Medicaid only covers some of the costs and both doctors and medical service providers bill the patient for the balance and ‘co-pays’ – also standard Medicaid has a very low cap on therapy – 40 hours per year – and while this is sufficient for a broken bone, this allotment is well known to be woefully inadequate for therapeutically addressing TBIs. But it ABSOLUTELY does not have to be this way! The Goals – Why Jessica (and my mom) Needs Your Help: The good news is that this fall the state of Montana prioritized Home & Community Based Service Medicaid waivers for people transitioning out of institutional living. Attaining this waiver will make Jessica eligible to access a wide range of services she cannot obtain while she is at Village, including a full-time, live-in Personal Care Attendant and most importantly the waiver will pay for therapy at RIM’s outpatient program – the consistent, aggressive therapy she needs. This therapy is not subject to hourly limitations; the only proviso is that Jessica continues to improve (outpatient progress is measured in ways that will not be disadvantaged by Jessica’s gradual steady pace.) Unfortunately, this transition priority will end in January 2011. After that Jessica will go to the bottom of a lengthy waiting list. It could be several years before Jessica gets the help she needs. The dilemma we face is that we have to have tenable housing before the end of December (with actual move in planned during January at the latest.) But my mom’s loss of work means she can’t afford the costs involved with relocating my sister or herself to adequate housing. Jessica urgently needs adequate, affordable housing to affect this transition ASAP. I am asking for donations to help me secure and then relocate my sister and mother into somewhat handicap accessible housing. Once we have housing secured to move Jessica out of an institution she will undergo several assessments to determine what her ‘community living needs’ will be. This will include how many hours of PCA care she will be granted and other services – home nurse, respite care, therapy, etc., and she will also be assessed based on her living environment for equipment – wheelchair, lifts, ramps, etc. The Future: Jessica’s prognosis for continued recovery is good – provided she gets adequate therapy and care. Dr. Ross also believes that at some point in the (not too distant) future Jessica will be a prime candidate for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy that has shown positive results in treating TBIs. There are a few select hospitals around the nation that are breaking new ground in this technology and having very encouraging and remarkable outcomes. After my mom and sister are established in reasonable housing, any balances left from this fundraising effort will go toward paying off Jessica’s substantial medical bills and if there is any left after that into a Montana Self Sufficiency Trust Account to supplement Jessica’s future medical, therapeutic and environmental needs. I have no idea what the total expenses are going to be - but I HAD to START somewhere. My sister, my mother and I – need your help. Please allow God lead your heart to action, making the most generous donation you can at this time. For making this wonderful website available, processing credit and debit transactions and then forwarding donations GiveForward collects a very reasonable and extremely modest service fee – only 6%. However, at this time of year you may prefer to make your contribution tax deductible. If so, you can forward donations in the form of a check to our home church. They are a 501(c) Non-Profit organization and all monies sent to them on Téjeanne’s behalf can be written off your taxes. Please make your checks payable to: (VCF) Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Dillon 310 Center Street Dillon, MT 59801 Be sure to note in the memo section of your check: For Jessica [I will add updates of the amount(s) collected through VCF and post them for everyone to be encouraged in reaching our goals.] We joyously celebrate your generous contribution to Jessica’s recovery. Thank you
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ [May] The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually). Numbers 6:24-26 (Amplified Bible)
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