Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Good Question

So, I was asked a few days ago (by a family who is facing a medical crisis):

1) How are you able to be in Duke with your girls full-time?

The simple answer is that I've been blessed with a job/career that can cater to our current situation.

When I was going through the interview process shortly before taking my current job as a "worship leader" at Nags Head Church almost two years ago, I explained to the pastors (five of them) that something like our current situation at Duke may come up in the near future. I was actually thinking just about transplantation and not about a premature baby. The pastors agreed that the church would support us if this kind of situation arose.

Last summer, after we learned that Tricia was a candidate for a transplant and we began making plans to relocate to Durham, I sat down with our pastors again and shared what the plan was...at that time, we did not yet know that Tricia was pregnant. Our original expectation (pre-pregnancy) was that we would move to Durham in early September, be listed and activated in late September, and probably be transplanted and home by Christmas. I planned on working as much as possible while away (I do a lot just on my computer), and I began preparing the people that I lead in ministry at the church to carry on without me (which they've all done with excellence).

Of course, the expected four month stay has turned into almost six months and will not be completely over for at least another two months. I haven't accomplished nearly as much work as I had originally planned, especially in the past two months, but the church and pastors have been incredibly supportive and flexible. Although all of the details haven't been worked out, I'm sure I've used up all of my vacation and sabbatical days for the next 30 years... :)

The amazing thing is that, either partly because of what God is doing in our lives, or maybe because I'm more of a Jonah than a David, the church has been experiencing some incredible things over the past few months that can truly only be attributed to God's hand of blessing. The church is growing and flourishing and being blessed in so many amazing ways...we truly miss being home and being a part of what's going on at NHC.

2) How are your medical bills being taken care of?

The simple answer is that we have no idea other than that God continues to bless us in extraordinary ways.

Tricia's yearly medical bill over the past few years is astronomical. She has spent an average of about 20 days per year in the hospital over the past three + years. We have a very high deductible, which we have met before the end of January every year. Our biggest out-of-pocket expense has been her medications and equipment.

The total cost of an average double lung transplant at Duke is somewhere in the ballpark of $300,000.

I honestly have no clue what is going on with Gwyneth's medical bills, but quite honestly, that's the least of our concerns at the moment, and we know that God will take care of us.

We have incredible health insurance (you get what you pay for)...it would take an entire blog post to share the miracle of how we we have been blessed with good, secure insurance. One of the biggest reasons that many people are turned away from being admitted into a transplant center is the inability to pay for the medical bills due to lack of insurance. Our insurance is paying for nearly every penny of Tricia's transplant, as well as several thousand dollars of our housing costs during the transplant process.

Through God's grace, my parents had the wisdom to set up a Trust Fund for Tricia about two years ago to help with her medical bills. Hundreds of family, friends and total strangers have donated to help us, for which we are incredibly grateful. This trust fund can help to cover the cost of meds, equipment, travel expenses, housing, and any other expenses related to Tricia's medical care. The trust fund does NOT cover any of Gwyneth's medical expenses or any personal finances. (If anyone is seriously interested in finding out more info about the legalities of starting a trust fund, you can email me your questions)

About a year ago, after more than one attempt, Tricia was finally accepted for Social Security Disability Isurance. It's not a pot of gold by any means, but it does help.

Also, both Tricia and Gwyneth are now receiving Medicaid benefits, which is very helpful at the drug store, especially.

I'm sure that there are even more ways to secure financial help for medical needs. The key is contacting and befriending the people who know. One of the best places to start is with a medical social worker.

I have no idea if any of this info will be helpful...I hope it is. You can ask me more questions about this stuff, but I'm not sure that I can give you much more info.




Destini said...

Praise God for His provision for your family. I have been having some pretty awesome God moments today where I am being reminded just how wise and timely He is in providing for all of our needs. I am thankful that He has placed such wise people in your path. May God continue to bless!

TsMom ~ Karen ~ Durbette said...

Praise God indeed! He provides for us in our times of need.

To add to your info, Nate, there are also state plans (Medicaid or called Welfare) that will provide for children in medical needs cases, sometimes without regard to the parents' incomes. Everyone should check their own state information for help. In PA, the state Medicaid has paid for almost everything that our (expensive bur extremely good) health insurance did not cover, including co-pays. (Thanks to every PA taxpayer!)

Keep up the wonderful care of your girls and the amazing info that you are providing for so many!


CulyQFun said...

Thanks for answering these questions. My husband and I follow your blog daily and we've found ourselves asking these questions. We just had a baby 5months ago and know how expensive it is without complications. The provision for your family is only GOD and you are BLESSED!

Anonymous said...

Our 1 pound preemie daughter had SSI and it covered every expense for her that our insurance didn't pay for. May you all continue to be blessed and taken care of by God.

Jane said...

God provides for all of us in totally different ways.

My heart is so very pleased to know that there are churches that take care of their leaders instead of knocking them down when they are going through life. This shows me that the "powers that be" at NHC are truly following God and taking care of His children. Doesn't surprise me a bit that they are growing and thriving. PRAISE GOD!

Thia said...

Thank you for sharing these things. Right now, there is no need for such information in my family, but I can only imagine what a light and breath of relief this is to someone experiencing a medical crisis and has no idea where to start in figuring out the financial end of things.

AlaneM said...

How cool is that!
Your church sounds fabulous, what a blessing to be supported like that - exactly what the church is there for, IMO.
Blessings to you,

DavitaJo said...

You know...not only am I inspired daily by what I read on this website...but I often learn something new!

Carol said...

I just pondered and pondered of all the wondrous things that have happened in your lives. How wonderful that Tricia was adopted into a loving family who cared for her so well. How awesome that she moved to the town where you were, Nate, and that you essentially fell in love with her at first sight, illness or no illness. And, lastly, but certainly not leastly, that you conceived Gwyneth Rose without even trying as you had a year prior. And how wonderful that you have a job that allows you, Nate, to be where you need to be right now. The three of you deserve to be together! And, one must not underestimate the value of having good insurance, either.

Roxanne said...

When NHC's elders approved your extended leave/alternate workplace plan, they didn't even have the knowledge that you could in any way use it to be a missionary from NHC to the world. You have honored their decision and God by using this opportunity the way you have. I know I speak for all the NHC family when I say thank you for that. We "get it" that church doesn't just happen inside the walls of our building. God is so much bigger than that! Pastor Rick's been teaching us that for years, and even he didn't know how God would use it with his own family. I'm glad once again to be able to assure the people from around the world that you and Tricia and both of your families are the devoted, loving servants that you seem to be online.

Anonymous said...

You should definitely look into applying for Medicaid insurance for Tricia if you can. It covers everything with ZERO deductibles. My cousin was on it during her very high risk pregnancy because she could no longer work and maintain her work health insurance plan. It was a blessing.

Laura said...

when daniel was in the nicu andover the next few re-hospitalizations, surgeries and years we learned to always accept and apply for everything he might potentially qualify for. sometimes we received a "no" like the supplemental social security for children with disabilities even though he weighed 1lb 6oz...long drawn out bureaucratic story there...but when they have said "ye" the result is our son has received access to the medical care, physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy he has needed to be one of the few "successful" ex-24 weekers. i'm still trying to understand what the neonatologists who cared for him meant by the term successful but nevertheless, our son has grwon, thrived and prospered because we were willing to seek out, ask for and accept the funding, care and therapy he was entitled to.
i think it is such a blessing that you have the job that you have so you can be where you need to be.
good luck with the ssi.

jen said...

I think it is so wonderful how your church is supporting you through this time. My mom worked for our church for 17 years and then they supported her and kept her on insurance for 16 months during her battle with cancer. It was such a blessing that my family didn't have the financial burden during this time as well.
Thank you for continuing to share your story and give God the glory.

Emilee said...

I too am on Social Security and after being on it for two years was approved for Medicare part A. Is Tricia on that as well? Also make sure they know that you have a child. My daughter gets benefits as well because I am on it. I also have CF if you were wondering. I have posted a couple times. Good luck with everything, you are all truly inspiring.

Jen Wilson said...

God is SO good. He says that he will take care of every need.

In your case, it is even more true! Sometimes money just appears, and you have no idea how a bill was paid, you just thank your Heavenly Father for the blessing, which you are obviously doing.

The Pastor of a Small Rural Church said...

Thank you for answering those questions (even though I wasn't the one who asked them publicly). My husband is a senior pastor as well and I know that our church would be as gracious and kind as yours has been. What a blessing to lead such wonderful people. The family of God never ceases to amaze me.

Christy said...

Praise Jehovah Jireh. He does provide. Your girls do need you at this time. A lot of people could come and help but you are needed. It is awesome that you are able to be there. My husband has been able to be home with us since August of last year and it is wonderful. It is also nice that you can get some assistance to help. I also have to say thank God for your families. They seem to really help a lot. That is a lot of good info. You are a blessing for others that need help.
Still praying in KY

Laurie in Ca. said...


It blesses me to read how God has your every need covered. I believe with all my heart that when God has a plan, he provides for it. And thank God for great insurance coverage. His plan for your lives is perfect and Gwyneth is His greatest gift to you and Tricia. I just know in my heart that He is going to take care of everything you need. He loves you all so much and it is evident with each new sunrise I witness. This blog is such a big part of your ministry as you share so openly of His goodness and grace. I love you guys and prayers continue in my home for you.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Tracie said...

Thank you for sharing this!
I am mostly blessed that your church has stood with you in this way and truly behaved like the Body of Christ should!

Dutch Momma of 4 said...

I read somewhere on your blog before that you were looking into the possibilty of setting up a PAYPAL BUTTON for donations... How is that coming along? That would be the perfect way for people like me (in Europe or wherever in the world) to aid financially!

JonesFam4 said...

Beautiful nod up there in the comments from one of your church members. Seems as though God has developed the perfect heart in your congregation for just this circumstance, or did this circumstance allow for God to develop this heart? Hmmmm chicken egg egg chicken.

Mama10EE said...

FYI--and if this is a repeat of someone else's comments I am sorry--but I work with people who receive SSDI benefits. Your daughter should be receiving a disability check off of your wife's disability record. Basically, they should both be getting a check, Tricia because of her disability, Gwyneth because she is a minor child of a person with a disability (regardless of your daughter having or not having a disability). I hope you have already tapped into this resource, but if not all you have to do is let SSA know you have a daughter and her checks should start coming. If you have any other questions about that, feel free to contact me (jennifer_erin@hotmail.com)

Praying for you!

Jennifer in WV