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As many of you know, my Mama (Epifania Barrizo) recently became my dependent and is staying with my family and I here in Okinawa. This is a great blessing. When I was 13 I promised my mother to take care of her the last quarter of her life and after 22 years, multiple USA VISA petition attempts, and much prayer and fasting, Mama (now 86) is finally with me and my family.
My work doesn’t offer medical and dental insurance for parents. So an attempt is being made to add Mama to Chad’s TRICARE medical and dental retiree insurance. We started the process immediately and were informed it would take at least eight weeks to process the application for an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) stateside.
Shortly after Mama’s arrival, she passed out in the middle of a conversation, while sitting on the stairs at home and fell. She seemed fine, with the exception of a small cut above her eye, but shortly began to experience short term episodes of unconsciousness. We rushed her to the US Naval Hospital where it was discovered Mama had a heart rate of 25 - 40 beats per minute. She passed out a total of 12 times that night. Her poor tiny body couldn’t take it. Her diagnosis: Arrhythmia: Complete Atrio-Ventricular Block. The USNH on Okinawa doesn’t have a Cardiologist and a Cardiac Surgeon and she was rushed to a local hospital (Makiminato) via ambulance.
It was a scary time. Mama was in a critical condition and it was believed we could lose her at anytime. They attached a temporary pacemaker within a short time of arrival to stabilize her. The services at both the USNH ER and at Makiminato were amazing. It was comforting to witness that my Mama was in good hands. She was scheduled for a permanent pacemaker procedure Tuesday, Sept 18, 2018.
Since we are still in the process of obtaining TRICARE insurance and parents are not being covered through my employment, we were informed that all expenses will come out of our pocket and TRICARE would only reimburse services at the USNH. When I met with the Makiminato billing representative that Tuesday, I was informed that the “Pacemaker Procedure” will cost $120,000. Yes, that’s right! $120,000 and payment was required upon discharge. “There’s no way I can afford that”, I told the nice lady and commenced negotiations for the next 2 hours for a lower cost. We were given a final, rock bottom price of $50,000 and a very robust payment plan. (It is not their normal policy).
I did not have much choice but to agree. Mama needed the procedure or we might lose her. Briefly I considered taking her back to the Philippines where costs can be cheaper, but Mama would not survive the trip. So on Tuesday evening, September 18, Mama received a permanent pacemaker and is slowly recovering.
I am humbly reaching out to all of you, if you are able to assist me in raising money to pay for Mama’s operation and recovery, I would be extremely thankful. Any amount will help. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.
Joy Baumgartner (Jetjet)
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