Our beloved brother Joseph Gullo BSN, RN was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as a young adult after receiving a diagnosis of ADHD as a child. Throughout his life, he was prescribed virtually every class of medication available to treat these disorders, and while some medications helped, they either had terrible side effects or were only transient in their effectiveness. Our brother worked unbelievably hard to the point of exhaustion to battle his mental health issues and spent weeks and weeks receiving inpatient care in addition to outpatient therapy and psychiatry to ensure that no stone was left unturned in terms of available treatments. Ultimately, his body simply ran out of gas and the heavy burden he felt throughout his life combined with the lack of access to mental health resources in our healthcare system proved too much for him to go on, and he unfortunately ended his own life after a failed attempt six months prior.
One of the primary stressors for anyone- let alone those battling mental health issues- is finances. No matter how many times Joey was walked through his finances and shown "the numbers" on paper to assure him that he was still financially stable despite his mounting medical bills, Joey ruminated over the extraordinary debt acquired as a result of his numerous hospitalizations. There were several times that he was resistant to going to the hospital because the inpatient treatments did not help him enough, and he knew he would subsequently sink that much further into debt. It was a terrible cycle of seeking treatment that was lackluster but all that was available, and dreading his incoming medical bills which compounded the stress of living. Several of his hospitalizations were voluntary when he could see a storm was approaching and wanted to seek cover, but several were involuntary when he was already in a full-blown manic or depressive episode.
As a family, we realized that one of the primary reasons Joey felt so overwhelmed with life was the thought of needing to pay back bills in the tens of thousands between hospital care and ambulance transportation. While on paper the bills were certainly able to be handled over time, they were too large for him to wrap his head around paying back. This led to several stretches of working overtime and not sleeping enough due to financial worries, and a feeling that he would never be able to get back on his feet even with offers from his close family to assist financially and being told that his life was infinitely more important than whatever financial pressure he was facing in the moment.
In the wake of Joey's passing, my wife Kate and I shifted our focus from the gut-punch feeling of his physical absence to how we could carry on his legacy and potentially save other individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder who simply cannot handle one more life stressor like receiving a $10,000 or more bill after being involunatarily committed to a hospital for mental health treatment.
While Joey's passing is fresh on our minds as are the wounds in our hearts, we wanted to provide a streamlined option for your donations that will be utilized to help other vulnerable individuals who would benefit from having their hospital bills after an involuntary stay essentially "wiped out." This way they can hopefully focus on getting better when they are discharged and not worry about how they are going to pay for the treatment they received while inpatient, and thus not working and earning income.
We are looking into how to create a non-profit organization and make a more robust program in the days, weeks and years to come in Joey's honor, and your funds contributed today will afford us the opportunity to jumpstart this extremely important endeavor.
We sincerely appreciate any and all support you can provide and know that Joey will be looking down from Heaven smiling at how his life struggles have resulted in a beautiful way to help others in his memory.