Rachel Buie is a mother of three children. She has a home, raises her family, and is the sole provider and supporter of her young children. Rachel also has a significant physical disability that brings unique challenges to being a parent. She endures periodic Transverse Myelitis – a condition derived from inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord. The neurological disorder often damages the insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin). The condition first appeared in 2013, two months after the birth of her third child, leaving Buie paralyzed.
Although Buie recovered from the 2013 paralyzing episode of her condition, Transverse Myelitis still affects her and her family today. The attacks continue to compromise Buie’s daily life, functionality, and, most importantly, the care of her three children. A year and a half ago,
Rachel felt the symptoms of Transverse Myelitis start to rise; the condition interrupts the messages the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body. As a result, the condition can cause pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems, or body dysfunction. Treatment for transverse myelitis includes medications and rehabilitative therapy.
Upon release from the hospital, Buie had to make a difficult decision. Seek care for herself by immediately entering a rehab facility or bypassing treatment and returning home to take care of her children. Like most mothers, she put her children’s well-being over hers.
At the time, her children were ages 12, 10, and eight. With little family in the area and few friends to offer limited help, Rachel found herself in the exact position she dreaded, bedridden and unable to walk. Consequently, the factors caused more complications, such as bed sores and severe wounds, hindering Buie from being able to care for her children.
“I saw I could not physically take care of my children,” Buie said. “I realized my decision to bypass rehab and therapy did not benefit anyone. I needed help.”
Northeast Delta Human Service Authority’s (NEDHSA) Department for people with Intellectual/Development Disabilities (I/DD) is for those in Buie’s situation. NEDHSA’s department for I/DD connected Buie to the I/DD service system by a referral from her home health nurse.
NEDHSA’s I/DD department began an assessment of Buie’s needs. Her mission was clear: to get her body healthy, walk again, and resume being a vital part of her children’s life. Immediately, NEDHSA acted, contacting the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities Community Support Team (CST) for consultation and utilizing the Family Support Program (FS) to access funding needed for services in her home.
NEDHSA assisted Buie in obtaining temporary admission into a rehabilitation facility to allow treatment for her wounds and to improve her health. In addition, there was constant communication between the CST and the medical rehabilitation team regarding Buie’s healing process during her 30-day stay. Registered Nurse Carla Martin, CST, contacted all medical professionals and secured outpatient treatment for Buie’s arrival home. NEDHSA Family Support staff expedited a Screen for Urgency of Need (SUN) with the screening score indicating an urgent need for services that would allow her to remain living in her home. Buie was offered an adult Waiver opportunity and after working with her private support coordinator and planning team, she was ultimately certified into the New Opportunity Waiver (NOW).
The NOW allows services to individuals with a developmental disability in a home or community-based setting. Services provided under NOW include Individualized and Family Support Services (day or night), Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies as an Extended State Plan Service, Supported Living, and Environmental Accessibilities Adaptations. Medical Certification Specialist Sondre Swan stepped in to see that Buie quickly received her level of care approval allowing payment and certification for the services received through Medicaid.
To ensure independent functionality with limited assistance, NEDHSA staff worked with the OCDD CST Resource Team member Phillip Smith who conducted additional assessments to identify physical needs within Buie’s home.
“Buie’s story is one that really displays what we do and how we work together as a team,” NEDHSA Community Services Professional Renee Thomas said.
Buie said receiving NEDHSA’s assistance “is a blessing.” She never had the option to feel insecure or unsafe in NEDHSA’s care.
“Thinking back, I cannot find a moment when I was unsure or questioned what Ms. Thomas and the NEDHSA staff were doing on my behalf,” Buie said. “I needed the help. I just prayed that these people were going to help me.”
Buie is home with her family. She is no longer bedridden. She is mobile with the help of a wheelchair and walker. The allotted hours for her sitters have increased from four to nine hours daily. As a result, it enabled Buie to have assistance traveling from her home in Tallulah to her monthly treatments in Shreveport and aid in the daily operations of running a house with three preteen children.
Thomas said NEDHSA has connections to several services; “therefore, Buie has all the services she needs.”
“She was so thankful for our help, and from the moment we met her, she showed her determination to walk again and see her family,” Thomas said.
Thomas said Buie is one of NEDHSA’s many jewels, and the team continues to do all they can to help.
Thomas added, “It is a truly wonderful experience when all of the Developmental Disability Team services come together for a positive outcome.”
– END –
For more information, contact Public Information Director DeRon Talley by emailing email@example.com