Colleen Byrne Foundation

Colleen Byrne Foundation

From Jessica Stevens

I am raising funds for my mother, Colleen Byrne who suffered a massive stroke and awareness for the thousands of other people and families affected by strokes each year without guidance or assistance on recovery.

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Update #2

almost 3 years ago

Long Term Care. Out of every obstacle during this journey – this has been one of the most arduous. My mom was transferred to Fort Collins Health Care Center on December 22nd, 2018. This was the point of her recovery that Swedish Medical Center felt she was medically stable ‘enough’ to be transferred to a more permanent setting to have more control of her life and less time being confined to a hospital bed. This sounded relieving at the time; however, the first 48 hours in the facility my mom lied in bed without any staff willing to move her because they were not prepared or trained for the injuries she had. This is just one of the ‘small’ concerns we have had over the month that she lived in the LTC facility. Major concerns have ranged from my mother being left with her call light on for two hours resulting in her near a fall out of bed, unsanitary conditions of soiled adult briefs, wipes, and soiled sheets left in her room on her floor and wheelchair for nearly 12 hours, feces left on the floor, missed meals, one month with only one actual shower and only 3 bed baths (she is supposed to have at least two hygienic cleanings a week), soiled bed that we had to clean ourselves multiple times, and so much more. The administrator, Tim Pierz did not correct or take accountability for any of the above issues. The clinical review board at this facility did not do a thorough review of my mother’s medical records prior to accepting her and left this poor woman in a place that was not only unfit for her high needs of medical attention but also untrained and unaware of her deficits and injuries.

Along with the medical neglect we have experienced, we have also witnessed severe ethical violations. The ombudsman (patient advocate), Carol Frank, was a previous employee of the facility for 20+ years. When she came to address our concerns we were met with threatening responses from her such as, “Calling State would be a big mistake,” and, “I find it hard to believe that staff here is not trained on your mother’s needs. I worked side by side with them for 20 years as a CAN,” as well as, “My heart and soul is in this facility. I find these complaints hard to believe.” This type of patient advocate is unacceptable. She is a biased party who should not be allowed to ‘represent’ resident’s rights and concerns. We declined Carol Frank’s services, reported her to the lead ombudsman for Larimer County, and asked for the Lead to represent our mother during the Care Conference. The lead ombudsman’s name is Amber Franzel, she did accompany us to our Care Conference held on January 25, 2019. Ms. Franzel did a fine job as far as her duties go – the problem is that the real goal of an ombudsman is to mediate between family and administration. So, with an administration unwilling to take responsibility for the key issues her job is nearly impossible.

With the advice of family and friends who have experience in the health care field and have encountered similar situations with their loved ones, we have filed complaints with Medicaid and State. We have received replies and hope that the facility is held accountable for my mother’s neglect and for so many other residents who do not have family advocates fighting for their rights and care.

Why is this all relevant? Fort Collins Health Care Center was the only Long Term Care facility who accepted my mother with her bone flap out. Every other facility we inquired with said they would take my mother but not until she had the piece of her skull replaced. We asked FCHCC multiple questions prior to her going to the facility and they made multiple empty promises that were never fulfilled in the month she lived there. When researching the facility we read all of the reviews that were posted on Google, Care.com, and Facebook. What we read gave the impression of a well rounded facility with caring staff. However, what we now know is that the administrator, the admissions specialists, and multiple staff of the facility are the people who posted the five-star reviews and never identified themselves as staff of the facility but instead impersonated members of the community - another ethical violation. Her well being was in danger at this facility. This is unacceptable but is sadly the reality for so many people requiring long term care. If you ever have the hard choice of putting your loved one in a facility ensure you do your due diligence on research, never feel pressured to go to a facility - even if it is the only accepting place, and always know your loved ones rights and LTC regulations.

As of Monday my mom was transported back to Swedish Medical Center where she will remain for a few weeks. The surgery to replace her bone flap is scheduled for Monday. Molly and I are asking for prayers and good thoughts sent her way for a safe surgery and recovery. My mom continues to have unwavering strength and faith in God. She believes she will walk again and that level of faith is so relieving in a time that things are still so uncertain. God bless.

More Info

My mother, Colleen Byrne, suffered a massive stroke of the entire right hemisphere of her brain on October 7, 2018.  On October 9th, my sisters and I elected to do a craniectomy.  This surgery involves removing a large piece of her skull to allow the brain to swell outward instead of in towards the good tissue of the brain that remained on the left hemisphere.  Had we not elected to do the surgery she would have gone into a coma and eventually passed away.  She was 52 years old.  The stroke resulted in complete loss of functionality and feeling on the left side of her body.  She also suffers from a loss of vision on the left and some sensation on the left side of her face.  She is not able to stand on her own and is unable to walk which has resulted in the need of assistance to be transferred to her wheelchair.  She is learning to steer on her own but is still quite fatigued by all of this yet continues to fight to gain more stamina and control.  My mom is regaining short term memory each day but still has difficulties with time and day to day memories.  Each day is a battle that she faces fully. 

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Jessica Stevens posted a new update:
almost 3 years ago

Update #2

Long Term Care. Out of every obstacle during this journey – this has been one of the most arduous. My mom was transferred to Fort Collins Health Care Center on December 22nd, 2018. This was the point of her recovery that Swedish Medical Center felt she was medically stable ‘enough’ to be transferred to a more permanent setting to have more control of her life and less time being confined to a hospital bed. This sounded relieving at the time; however, the first 48 hours in the facility my mom lied in bed without any staff willing to move her because they were not prepared or trained for the injuries she had. This is just one of the ‘small’ concerns we have had over the month that she lived in the LTC facility. Major concerns have ranged from my mother being left with her call light on for two hours resulting in her near a fall out of bed, unsanitary conditions of soiled adult briefs, wipes, and soiled sheets left in her room on her floor and wheelchair for nearly 12 hours, feces left on the floor, missed meals, one month with only one actual shower and only 3 bed baths (she is supposed to have at least two hygienic cleanings a week), soiled bed that we had to clean ourselves multiple times, and so much more. The administrator, Tim Pierz did not correct or take accountability for any of the above issues. The clinical review board at this facility did not do a thorough review of my mother’s medical records prior to accepting her and left this poor woman in a place that was not only unfit for her high needs of medical attention but also untrained and unaware of her deficits and injuries.

Along with the medical neglect we have experienced, we have also witnessed severe ethical violations. The ombudsman (patient advocate), Carol Frank, was a previous employee of the facility for 20+ years. When she came to address our concerns we were met with threatening responses from her such as, “Calling State would be a big mistake,” and, “I find it hard to believe that staff here is not trained on your mother’s needs. I worked side by side with them for 20 years as a CAN,” as well as, “My heart and soul is in this facility. I find these complaints hard to believe.” This type of patient advocate is unacceptable. She is a biased party who should not be allowed to ‘represent’ resident’s rights and concerns. We declined Carol Frank’s services, reported her to the lead ombudsman for Larimer County, and asked for the Lead to represent our mother during the Care Conference. The lead ombudsman’s name is Amber Franzel, she did accompany us to our Care Conference held on January 25, 2019. Ms. Franzel did a fine job as far as her duties go – the problem is that the real goal of an ombudsman is to mediate between family and administration. So, with an administration unwilling to take responsibility for the key issues her job is nearly impossible.

With the advice of family and friends who have experience in the health care field and have encountered similar situations with their loved ones, we have filed complaints with Medicaid and State. We have received replies and hope that the facility is held accountable for my mother’s neglect and for so many other residents who do not have family advocates fighting for their rights and care.

Why is this all relevant? Fort Collins Health Care Center was the only Long Term Care facility who accepted my mother with her bone flap out. Every other facility we inquired with said they would take my mother but not until she had the piece of her skull replaced. We asked FCHCC multiple questions prior to her going to the facility and they made multiple empty promises that were never fulfilled in the month she lived there. When researching the facility we read all of the reviews that were posted on Google, Care.com, and Facebook. What we read gave the impression of a well rounded facility with caring staff. However, what we now know is that the administrator, the admissions specialists, and multiple staff of the facility are the people who posted the five-star reviews and never identified themselves as staff of the facility but instead impersonated members of the community - another ethical violation. Her well being was in danger at this facility. This is unacceptable but is sadly the reality for so many people requiring long term care. If you ever have the hard choice of putting your loved one in a facility ensure you do your due diligence on research, never feel pressured to go to a facility - even if it is the only accepting place, and always know your loved ones rights and LTC regulations.

As of Monday my mom was transported back to Swedish Medical Center where she will remain for a few weeks. The surgery to replace her bone flap is scheduled for Monday. Molly and I are asking for prayers and good thoughts sent her way for a safe surgery and recovery. My mom continues to have unwavering strength and faith in God. She believes she will walk again and that level of faith is so relieving in a time that things are still so uncertain. God bless.

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Jessica Stevens posted a new update:
about 3 years ago

Update #1

Colleen is nearing two months since her stroke. Progress she has made includes: being upgraded to a regular diet with supplemented tube feeds at night to ensure she receives the proper caloric count each day, she is learning to steer herself in her wheelchair, working on assisted moves from the bed to her wheelchair by using a sliding board and protecting her left side (arm and leg) that she does not have movement of.

Her bone flap (large part of her skull) is still removed and will remain out until at least January. The skull was removed on October 9th to allow for the brain to swell out rather than swell into the left hemisphere of her brain - which would have resulted in a coma and eventually loss of life.

Colleen continues to become more aware of her deficits but thanks God every day for her second chance at life. She said to me in tears this week, "This is the hardest thing I have ever done and I have done a lot." This could not be more true.

As we near two months since the stroke, I (Colleen's youngest daughter and caretaker) am faced with more difficult situations. Colleen did not have health insurance prior to her stroke. I have taken the proper channels to enroll her in Medicaid which will cover the hospital stay and eventually Long Term Care. Though, my mom is unparalleled in strength, long term 24-hour care is in the inevitable future. Medicaid is a savior in the fact that it will pay for the lapsed and future hospital stays (averaging $4,004 a night in the ICU and $3000-$4000 a night on the neurology floor where she currently is located) it also will cover the majority of her basic care at a Long Term Care facility (LTC) (average $3,500 a month in Colorado). However, when she gets to an LTC facility Medicaid will not cover her much needed therapies (ie; Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy) which is required for recovery. Stroke patients make their greatest recoveries in 3-6 months after the stroke. My mother is a third of the way into this but will need therapies for the rest of her life that Medicaid will not cover because it is going to pay for her living arrangements instead.

So, what does this all mean? It means that as her caretakers my fiance would be required to cover any therapy costs out of pocket. On average a physical therapists in Colorado cost $75-$150 per session without insurance. Stroke patients require therapy from all areas in order to recover fully. This means to cover one month of rehabilitative therapies for my mom I would require an average $300 a day seven days a week, totaling $2100 per week. $2100 multiplied by 52 weeks in a year would be a grand total of $109,000 a year. For a 27 year old staff sergeant in the Air Guard, current college student, and state worker with a partner who is also enrolled in school, this number is completely unattainable.

The alternative to the previous option is taking my mother my fiance and my home to care for her on our own. With this option, Medicaid (knowing that she needs the various therapies) will pay for rehabilitative therapists to come to the home to work with her but will not cover 24-hour nursing assistance. Meaning, Molly or I would need to be with her at all times that a therapists would not be (21 out of the 24 hours a day). This is not feasible option either.

Which is why I started this fundraiser and am reaching out to many other platforms for guidance and grants to help my mother have the best chance at recovering and a good life. She is 53 and deserves the chance to rehabilitate without the required chess match with Medicaid for assistance.

In the short term, I need help as I delve into the realm of unknown insurance and care for my mom but in the long term I want to create a foundation in my mom's name that will help other families who are enduring the same things as we are but are even less fortunate in family, finances, and assistance. I want to be the lifeline that helps families get from the hospital to a long term recovery without any help. I want to fill the gaps on resources, support, and finances.

Please help me in fulfilling this goal to help my mom and to ultimately create something that is bigger than ourselves and that will one day help thousands of families like mine.

Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. My mother was nearly 53 when she had hers and it can happen to anyone.

Thank you for reading and for your time. God bless.

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