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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

In a Pickle


A grave situation I have encountered. I am hoping to get my story out there for help.

I was working for a long standing and real Vermont based company here in town. On December 11th 2016 while loading a truck I felt my left hip buckle as I was trying to get a 400 pound stack over the dock plate. I really thought at that moment had I stayed in that position for a split second longer I would have had the hip give out.

I did finish my shift and did not report it that day. I was working two extra shifts that week, getting ready for Christmas with my Kids. I had been working 67 hour weeks for the whole month. I went home on the 11th, had to be back for my last shift of the 6 day work week in 12 hours. I went in, worked that shift, sore and stiff as usual and got home on the 12th. I had the 13th off, my only day off before signing up for my last 6 day work week before the Holiday. I woke up in real pain and went in and reported it to my HR Director at work. We filled out the accident report with my Supervisor and I was told to go to they're vendor to be looked at.

I finished my regularly scheduled shift and went in on the 14th to be x-rayed by their Dr. I was there for 3 hours after the x-ray and went to tell them I needed to see my 6 year old daughter off the bus and go to work. I signed myself out, saw my First Grader off the bus and went to work, with the intention I would get the Dr. report the next day. About 2 and a half hours into my shift, my Supervisor came to tell me I had a phone call in the office. When I took the call it was the Dr. saying that the x-ray showed an impacted fracture of the left femoral neck, thay I needed to leave immediately and I would need surgery. I was stunned! I left right away, went to the Dr. got the x-rays, note for my employer and a pair of crutches.

Now, let me tell you that I had my right hip replaced in January 2015 that at the time of this injury had not taken properly and needed a revision. This revision needed to be done before I could have surgery on the left hip. I had the revision done with great sucsess here at BMH in February by one of our awsome Ortho Surgeons here in B-boro. I will be going in for my left hip replacement a week from today, April 17th, also here at BMH by the same surgeon. I am only 49 years old, young for double hip replacements, but not unheard of.

The real issue I am dealing with is the denial of Workers Comp benefits and the appeal process I find myself in. It has been almost 4 months and the fear of being homeless and losing all I have worked for because I injured myself at work. It is not the Company I work for that is at fault, it is the big insurance company and VT D.O.L that has taken my life and existence into their hands and left me to figure things like rent, gas, utility bills and even the money to do my laundry or car repairs so I can keep getting to my appointments.

I have gone through two lawyers, I am at my wits end. I am tempted to go and fly a sign like those young people I see downtown, saying I am not homeless  yet. That any money I collect will go right to my landlord and creditors so I can weather this storm and get back to work in a couple months. I have had some real rescue help from friends and family. I had one orginization help me out. I have gone online and had some help there, but I am very much afraid that my days are nearing when I have to tell my landlord I do not know how I can afford my one bedroom apartment. I did not know if anyone in our community knows anything that can help me keep my home while I go through this last hurdle in getting back to work. I grew up here in Town, I know this to be a great place to live.

I have children born and raised here. I believe in working hard, and I am not asking for a handout by any means, I am looking for a hand up. Not to be someone downtown looking to make money that will go right to the beer store or a out of State drug dealer, which is where the majority of the cash that is collected by a handful of younger than me adults panhandling in town. One person told me he makes around $80 a day at the rte. 119 bridge, another says he does that flying a sign at a store by exit 1. I find it incredible!

So if you see me this week with my sign right next to one of these people asking for contributions to keep me in my home while I recover from a real workplace injury, and then I will totally look forward to getting back to doing the only thing I've known, which is working for what I need, paying my way, raising my Kids and giving when I can.

What say you Brattleboro? Any ideas?

Joel.

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Ugh

What a tough situation to be in.

Worker's Comp denied? This seems like an on-the-job injury. Why was it denied?

If you are in a real bind, perhaps the best way would be to go to the top - talk to Sanders' office. He likes health care.

This is a great example of why we need universal health care. No one should have to worry about making ends meet because of illness or injury.

Having access to being able to buy insurance is not what is needed. Insurance needs to go away. People need access to health care and treatment they can afford, not overpriced insurance that doesn't really pay for much at all.

I bet people who have gone though similar situations might have a few things to say... anyone?

 
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I don't know much about

I don't know much about collecting workman's comp - I had to provide to my staff when I had my catering business but wasn't eligible myself. The only thing I can think in the above problem is that he didn't report the initial injury right away.
Maybe that's what they are basing their ruling on? I always encouraged my employees to let me know immediately if they had an accident or were injured in any way- even if they felt fine or didn't think they needed medical care.
I feel badly that someone is in such a rough situation. And, yes...we need health care not health insurance.

 
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In a Pickle

I have made some mistakes in this, I realize that. First one was not reporting it immediately, my second was not going to my own Dr. and not theirs. I know now I had that choice. I actually had one lawyer when I was first forced to go that way tell me I should have fell down, made a big scene and be taken out by an ambulance! I told him that sounded kind of over doing it. I am not really wired that way. I have been working for well over 30 years, i was raised Old School by my grandparents here in B-boro, they're The Greatest Gen folks, born in the late 20's. I was in work mode. I really did not think it was this big deal. Usually I shake it off, take an Advil or two and keep going. I feel I am being punished for being a hard worker that isn't looking to fill out an accident report every time I do something. I have wrenched my back at times and either missed a day or two and took the hit, but because it was a hip issue and I have had the right one replaced already then OI just wanted it looked at. I had no idea that it was an impacted fracture I had been walking on for almost 3 days. But the good news is it is getting reolaced Monday and I hope to be back to work at the same place hopefully 9 weeks from now. It is incredible that I have not lost it all, but it is still a real struggle everyday to find the way to not end up on the street. That is another topic all in it self that I will post on. Thanks for the dialog, I do appreciate that. JP.

 
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In a Pickle

I have reached out to Senator Sanders office, I have had communication with a person named Thomas at his office in Burlington. It took a while for them to get back to me, but he did say the Senator had received the e-mail and wanted to look into it more. I also e-mailed our Rep. Peter Welch but have yet to hear anything.
I e-mailed Bernie in January when I realized just what I was up against. My first lawyer told me to check out a program that was on CNN and hosted by Anderson Cooper about the techniques used by big insurance ( theirs gets an AA+ rating online? ) is this thing named The Three D's.. deny, delay, and defend. My ortho doc said this was not unusual, they always at first deny hips, knees and backs.
I have not given up hope, but i must say that this has been an incredible education. As a 49 (50 this year) y.o man I can attest to the downward spiral of any kind of Middle Class, or even Working Class, protection in this country. Of course somehow I will get to the other end, yet I have never been so wracked with fear of the unknown like what has been my life since January 3rd when I got the denial of all benefits from Vermont Dept of Labor. I had always gone to work with the good faith that Heaven forbid I injure myself at work, I am covered for my basic living needs. I was working 60 plus hours a week, their own Dr. had to call me at work to tell me to leave. I sometimes think I should have said no, I am not going to, I am going to get my 67 hour paycheck on December 22 like I have planned and worked towards. It is not like I am this slacker type looking for something for nothing, i would rather be at work right now. I am just grateful for the absolute kindness of my friends and family and strangers that I still have my home. And I am glad for a dialog on it. This is why I thought of ibrattleboro. Godd to be back on, it's been a while. JP

 
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In a Pickle

This whole situation has made me see that at the end of the day it is the people in your life and community that are going to be the ones to come to your rescue. It has been a typical "I did not think it could happen to me" kind of thing. We hear about this happening , where one injury or diagnosis is enough to strain the security of an individual and the closest people in their lives. My girlfriend, sister and Mom whom all have their own homes to care for have felt the pinch of trying to keep me homeless because I got injured at work, yet an insurance company has the final say. I had this thought where as a civic experiment section off the town into small microcosms of the whole. We already have the Clark/ Canal Assoc. but if we did the whole town, each neighborhood starts an interest growing account and each working member put in $20 a week, if a business is in the neighborhood they could put in what they feel was a contribution. This neighborhood fund becomes the thing that if a neighbor in good standing in the fund has an injury, or a death in the family or even if you needed a new roof, you could go to the neighborhood and ask for donation. There really is, at the end of the day, when everything is getting shut off and your about to sell everything and couch surf, that it is really your family, friends and neighbors that maybe able to really get you through this.

 

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