Many of you know Derek Wanliss as a fellow cyclist and a friend. As you may or may not know, Derek suffered an accident in August riding at JD with his life partner Sue Malloy. Since then he has been through many ups and downs (mostly downs) trying to get his arm repaired. The full account of Derek's interaction with the health system is detailed below, but as can be expected, the injury turned out to be much worse than anticipated and required multiple planned and unplanned visits to the hospital. At this point his arm is mended back together and he faces an extended physical therapy regimen with an uncertain fate awaiting him at the end.
Before we get to the account of what happened to Derek, I wanted to share some insight on why I put together this page for Derek.
What brought about this 'gofundme' page?
As with many of us, I'd been in touch with Derek to check on his healing off and on throughout August, September and October. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction until November when he had to go back in again for surgery. Apparently there had been no progress in his healing. I spoke to him after he got home from his final surgery and he sounded dejected, frustrated and sad. The medical bills had already come in and he knew he was facing many more to come. Derek has medical insurance but it's not the best and doesn't cover much of what he's gone through. Couple that with the nature of his work and him questioning his ability to proceed with his livelihood, it was really adding up. Clearly this whole situation put him in an unfortunate spot.
Reflecting back on the incident after that phone call, it really could've happened to any of us. It was a stroke of bad luck, just a random incident while riding on two wheels on trails he knew well. He wasn't going for the KOM at Bunker Hill, he was just out riding the trails on a nice day. After that conversation with Derek in November, I hung up and immediately reached out to a few other close friends who also knew Derek well. A few of us agreed that we should try to help Derek. My place in this effort is this page.
Was Derek involved in setting up this page?
This page was my idea. Derek did not ask me to setup this page for him. It took some time for us to break it to Derek that others wanted to help and be a part of his healing process. Derek as we all know is a very proud man. While there for others, it's not in Derek's
nature to reach out with his own hand on behalf of himself. We are reaching out on his behalf.
Where does the money go?
Funds donated go directly to Derek. He will use them for his medical bills. Even after negotiating down, he still owes money.
So what can I do?
Please consider donating any amount for which you feel comfortable. If you can't donate that's fine too. There is still a way to help; please consider sharing this page with your network.
The text below was written by Sue Malloy, Derek's life-time partner. This is the story of how this all came about.
For those of you who don’t already know, Derek broke his arm August 4, 2019, while mountain biking at
JD Park. He wasn’t doing anything crazy and he has ridden those trails hundreds of times. When it
happened he was in a lot of pain. We knew he doesn’t have a good insurance plan so I drove him to an
MD Now in West Palm Beach, thinking it would be less costly than a trip to the emergency room. As the
adrenaline wore off the pain became unbearable. The nurse took his blood pressure which read 90/60,
extremely low. I noticed that the color drained from his face and he was clammy to the touch. I went to
get the doctor and he took one look at Derek and said he was going into shock so he called 911. The
medics gave him a shot of fentanyl so that they could move him and took him to Good Sam. An X-ray
showed that he had broken the upper arm (humerus) at the neck of the bone, which is right where the
bone attaches to the shoulder socket. (See the attached photo of the break.) Not a good place to break.
They admitted him overnight to manage the pain. They said that the bone was not displaced so they gave him a sling and sent him
home the next day. The hospital bill alone was in excess of $15000. His insurance covered $400. He
was billed ala cart for services such as the on-call orthopedic Dr., which was $1400. The x-rays,
radiologist, and other “Dr.’s” that merely stuck their head in the room, all came as separate bills. The
total was nearly $21,000. After many phone calls and threats of bankruptcy Derek was able to negotiate
the $15000 to $1100 by making an immediate payment for the full $1100. He still owns $6000 for the
other miscellaneous bills.
Derek was instructed to follow-up with the orthopedic Dr., which he did. More x-rays were taken and
the Dr. told him everything was healing fine and to start physical therapy. After the first visit he was
informed that PT is not covered by his insurance. They charged $120 a visit, so he started trying to do it
at home. It was very painful. In fact, 3 months later it was still painful and he still couldn’t raise his arm
up more than a few inches. By this time his body was out of alignment and he started having pain in his
hip. He went to our chiropractor, Dr. Fox. When Dr. Fox saw his arm he immediately ordered an MRI.
The MRI showed extensive damage, including necrosis, which is death of bone tissue. Dr. Fox
recommended another orthopedic surgeon. Derek went to see him and he scheduled surgery within
two weeks. On November 15 th (over 3 months after the accident) the surgery consisted of cutting an
approximate 7” long incision in Derek’s arm in order to get to the bone. The bone had started to heal in
the wrong place so the Dr. had to re-break the arm and move it into the correct position. He then
screwed in a metal plate to hold everything together. (See the other photo with the metal plate and screws
holding everything together.) It took 27 staples to close up the incision. He was
kept overnight at Bethesda. Prior to surgery they administered a “nerve blocker”. It was so strong that
his arm didn’t even feel like it was part of his body. He was also on morphine. They gave him a sling and
sent him home the day after his surgery with a RX of Oxycodone.
Derek was home less than an hour before the nerve blocker and morphine wore off at the same time.
By the time he took the Oxycodone it was too late. He felt all the trauma that had happened to his arm
during surgery all at once. It was unbearable. I couldn’t move him to take him back to Bethesda. My
only option was to call 911. They brought him to St. Mary’s where they ignored him for a good 45
minutes. He was crying out in pain. They even told him to shut up and then shut the door on him. It
finally took 2 shots of morphine and a shot of tramadol for me to get him in the car and drive him back
to Bethesda. They admitted him again overnight. They sent him home the next day with Oxycodone,
but the pain was now under control. He followed up a week later and things look good, although the Dr.
did say that he lost mobility in his shoulder, some of which may be permanent. He was instructed to
start physical therapy, still not covered by his insurance, but if he wants to be able to use his arm again it
is imperative that he does it. He goes to physical therapy once a week and is supposed to go for the
next 2 months, with no help from his insurance. So far we have only received a bill for the Orthopedic
surgeon for this second round of events totaling in excess of $2000. Supposedly his insurance covered
the surgery. What we don’t know is what it didn’t cover,
Where is this all going?
Clearly Derek has a tough road ahead. Hopefully the rehab will work and he will gain full use of his arm. As you can see there is still much uncertainty with the costs associated with this. Again, please consider helping Derek and Sue through this!
- Ross & Kathe Merken
- Bill Bone
- Jane Moore
- Helga Toland
- Mary Keating