Healthcare Gap Closing for Disabled Port Lavaca Man

By Pamela Bond

Victoria Advocate

Jan. 12, 2008

Larry Tamlin, 58, of Port Lavaca said things have been looking up for him since he last appeared in the Advocate on Dec. 31.

With the help of crutches, Tamlin has been walking on a temporary knee implant while he waits for the surgery that will give him a more permanent artificial knee. Tamlin’s real knee was crushed while he was fighting a fire with the Magnolia Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

Tamlin, a former carpenter and a volunteer firefighter for six years, no longer has health insurance. He cannot qualify for Medicaid because he has already paid off his house, despite the fact that he is supporting his wife and 10-year-old grandson on only his disability pay.

John R. Brimer, Tamlin’s neighbor, stepped in and started making calls to anyone who might be able to help, which led him to State Rep. Juan Garcia. By working with the Victoria orthopedic surgeon who implanted Tamlin’s temporary knee, Garcia’s office was able to get a referral to a doctor at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Tamlin was hoping to qualify for the hospital’s charitable program, which would allow him to get the needed surgery (that costs about $40,000) free of charge. Elizabeth Lippincott of Garcia’s office confirmed last week that the hospital did accept Tamlin’s case.

Now, the orthopedic surgeon at Methodist Hospital, Dr. Vasilios Matthews, must approve him. Tamlin has an appointment on Thursday to confirm that.

If Tamlin does go through the surgery at Methodist Hospital, he will need to stay in Houston for a month following the procedure. Since he cannot afford hotel and living expenses for that long, the Magnolia Beach Volunteer Fire Department has created a fund to raise money for
Tamlin.

Bonnie Bailey, who knows Tamlin and has been with the department for 17 years, is serving as treasurer of the fund and said they have raised $555. For anyone willing to help, checks made out to the department can be dropped off at the fire station, located at 873 Margie Tewmey Road in
Port Lavaca.

The local office of Texas Assistive and Rehabilitative Services might also be able to financially assist Tamlin. After a meeting with them on
Jan. 7, Tamlin is providing them with information about his medical and financial situation, and he is fairly certain they will be able to help in some way.After the first article appeared about Tamlin’s difficulty finding help within the healthcare system for his surgery, he said he received calls from people who supported him or identified with him.

According to National Coalition on Health Care, about16 percent of Americans, or 47 million people, were without health insurance in 2005, which is the latest available data from the government.

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