As local residents were sharing their concerns about possible cutbacks in health care services, Lynn Festarini Jones voiced her frustration about the system not being able to assist a Timmins family in need of life-saving surgery for their six-year-old boy.
As local residents were sharing their concerns about possible cutbacks in health-care services, Lynn Festarini Jones voiced her frustration about the system not being able to assist a Timmins family in need of life-saving surgery for their six-year-old boy.
“Right now, I’m trying to help a family – it’s the Lachapelle-Fortier family,” said Festarini Jones, as she was given the opportunity to speak at the podium during a town hall-style meeting held at the Timmins Museum on Saturday.
“This is my little friend Robin,” she said, holding up a photo of the child.
“He’s six years old. He’s got dwarfism. His spine is twisting and if he doesn’t have surgery, he’s going to die. He’s already had surgery in Toronto at Sick Kids and the surgery didn’t go well. They lost him on the table. They brought him back. The doctors at Sick Kids said we can’t do this surgery.”
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa said they couldn’t help him either.
The family has decided to undergo treatment with the specialists at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware.
“He hasn’t even seen a doctor yet, in the states. But this is a team of experts in Delaware and they said they’re going to operate on him. They have a team of absolute experts.
“Tina (Lachapelle) is the mother … She sent me her first bill for consultation. She hasn’t even gone to consultation yet. Her first bill for consultation is $8,600. She talked to a lady in the States. Her son had the same surgery; it’s a very rare form of dwarfism. Her son had the same surgery at a bill of $500,000.”
The family received an estimate on April 5 from Nemours Children’s Hospital for the cost of surgery on their son.
The total is more than $720,000 US, and according to the estimate, it would have to be paid prior to surgery
“OHIP is not giving them any money. What the hell is going on with our government? They’re not going to give them any money,” said Festarini Jones, her anger steadily rising with the volume of her voice. “This family should not have to fight for money to save a child’s life. I lost a child. I am trying to help this family so they don’t have to go through losing their baby.
“He is six years old! The kid is six years old!” she said shouting. “He shouldn’t have to fight for money to have surgery to save his life!
“We need to fight for these people … This family shouldn’t have to go through this.”
The dilemma facing Robin Fortier’s family has captured the hearts of many Timmins residents as has the challenges faced by the family of Payton Caron, a 19-month-old girl who was born with a rare congenital heart defect called double aortic arch that resulted in her having congenital tracheobronchomalacia. She has been admitted every three or four months for respiratory difficulties and every day she is working to breath with any physical activity.
A number of local organizations, businesses and churches have hosted fundraising events or provided donations to these families in hopes that their children can receive the medical treatment they need.
As part of this effort which has seen the community band together in support of these families, the Timmins Professional Firefighters Association and the Timmins District Hospital doctors will be facing off at the McIntyre Arena this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with proceeds from the hockey game going towards these two families.
The Timmins Professional Firefighters Association is also accepting donated items which will be sold off during a silent auction held during the hockey game.
Those wishing to donate items for the silent auction can drop them off at the Timmins fire hall on Cedar Street South.
For more information, contact the Timmins Professional Firefighters Association at 705-864-3589.