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Clarksville mother honored as Tennessee Justice Center’s Mother of the Year

 

Honored for her fight to obtain healthcare for her disabled daughter

Linda Winford of Clarksville is being honored as a 2010 Mother of the Year by the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC). The award is in recognition of her persistence in battling to obtain medical services for her daughter and for her extraordinary commitment to the healthcare of all children and families. Ms. Winford is one of six parents in Tennessee who are receiving the 2010 TJC Mother of the Year award.

Linda Winford with Rebecca and her other family members. (left to right):   Jolene Crews holding Rosemary Lyons-Winford; Linda Winford holding Rebecca Lyons-Winford; Kathy Lyons holding Robert Lyons-Winford; and Ronald Lyons-Winford. (Tim Cope)

Linda Winford with Rebecca and her other family members. (left to right): Jolene Crews holding Rosemary Lyons-Winford; Linda Winford holding Rebecca Lyons-Winford; Kathy Lyons holding Robert Lyons-Winford; and Ronald Lyons-Winford. (Tim Cope)

Just after Christmas 2006, four siblings were adopted by retired phone company employee Linda Winford. While living with their biological parents, the children had endured physical and verbal abuse. When they first came to their foster mom, it was with broken bones, shaved heads (due to lice), malnutrition, and a host of behavioral problems due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The children’s healing began with love and care from their new mom, Linda, supported by her partner, Kathy Lyons, formerly with the Army as a Captain in the Chemical Corps. A near drowning accident resulted in the youngest child, Rebecca, becoming quadriplegic at age three. She cannot walk, breathes with the help of a tracheotomy, and is fed by a tube. Through Linda and Kathy’s consistent care, she is getting stronger every day, and can now communicate through smiles and blinks.

Because she has difficulty coughing and swallowing, Rebecca needs help clearing her throat and lungs. Without proper help, many children in this condition are continually hospitalized for pneumonia. For more than a year and a half, Rebecca has been hospital-free because she uses “the Vest,” a machine that clears her lungs and prevents choking and infections. However, last fall TennCare notified the family that the Vest would be taken away because it was “experimental.” The family called TJC which helped them get ready for the hearing. They proved to the judge that it would be cheaper for TennCare and better for Rebecca to keep the Vest, so the judge ordered it.

Ms. Winford said, “With the Tennessee Justice Center’s help, we were able to keep Rebecca’s Vest, and her respiratory health is excellent. Her pulmonologist just gave her a clean bill of health.”

“Linda Winford’s devotion to her adopted children and her persistence in fighting for what they need is a great example of how Tennessee mothers bravely stand up for the rights of their children who are sick or have disabilities,” said Michele Johnson, managing attorney at the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC), a non-profit public interest law and advocacy firm based in Nashville. “Caregivers like Ms. Winford face many obstacles in obtaining the care that their children need and taxpayers have already paid for them to receive. Despite their struggles, their vision and hope for their children is unyielding. Our annual Mothers of the Year recognition is a way to acknowledge their sacrifices and dedication to their children.”

More Battles

As the family faces more battles to get Rebecca what she needs, TJC is by their side. Rebecca is benefitting tangibly from hyperbaric oxygen therapy to restore her cognitive function, and needs nurses to accompany her to those treatments. However, TennCare denied the nursing care. TJC wrote a letter to the state explaining why she should get the care, and found an attorney to represent the family in court. Unfortunately, they lost at the hearing, but Ms. Winford is not through fighting.

Ms. Winford said, “We’ll keep working to help Rebecca and other young people keep their health care and reach their potential.”

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is a non-profit public interest law and advocacy firm serving Tennessee’s families. It gives priority to policy issues and civil cases in which the most basic necessities of life are at stake and where advocacy can benefit needy families statewide. TJC works to empower its clients by holding government accountable for its policies and actions.   TJC was established in 1996 and is located at 301 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN. For additional information about the Tennessee Justice Center and its services, visit www.tnjustice.org or call 615-255-0331.


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