Friday, March 25, 2016

Meningitis Victims Learning Mixed Details of Awards

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

From Alabama to Tennessee and on to New Jersey and Michigan victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak are learning how much if any they can expect to receive from a $200 million trust fund.
Kristen Townsley, 32, an Alabama resident, got a two-page letter informing her that she would be getting some but not all of the points she had requested. The points, valued at about $1,300 apiece, will be used to determine how much of an award she will get.
Townsley and hundreds of others were victims of the 2012 fatal fungal meningitis outbreak caused by fungus laden steroids shipped around the country to health providers in more than 20 states.
Townsley, like several other victims, indicated she is appealing to regain the points shaved off her award.
In Nashville, Tenn. Ray Sharer, another victim, said he got nearly as many points as he had applied for.
But Sharer, like others, says the potential award from a $200 million trust fund, is small recompense for the suffering he continues to undergo.
"It still doesn't amount to peanuts," he said.
Dennis OBrien, another Tennessee victims, said that even those who lost a relative in the outbreak will be getting meager amounts.
 " It's just sad!!  The pain and suffering back then, and the present and future pain and suffering NOW, not even close! " he said

Townsley, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, went to a North Florida pain clinic in 2012, to get relief and eventually got three injections.
She soon became sick but, at first didn't connect it to the recent injections.
"I had no idea," she recalled.
 The cause soon became clear when federal health officials disclosed the growing outbreak and its apparent cause, fungus infested steroids from the New England Compounding Center.
"I got a call on Oct. 5 telling me to go to my doctor for blood work," she recalled.
She said confusion followed when she reported to a local hospital and was told, "You look fine."
Tests showed she wasn't.
Subsequent treatment for the fungal infection proved debilitating and she underwent two hospitalizations and two weeks of treatment at the Mayo Clinic. She said doctors have told her she will continue to suffer serious after effects for the rest of her life.
Townsley received a letter dated March 18 informing her that 4 points had been deleted from her claim. 
Other victims, or their survivors in fatal cases, also have received award letters in a three-phased process. Under a distribution plan, victims will get an initial award estimated at about 50 percent of the total with a second distribution at a later date.
Sharer noted that unless federal officials reverse their current stand, those awards will be seriously depleted by claims from the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, which paid for the treatment previously.
"Medicare is going to be standing at the front door,"he said.

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