Local family struggling to take care of son amid growing medical bills

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by Chris Nagus / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 9:57 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 17 at 10:20 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Most of us go about our day worried about our own problems, but this is a story about someone else’s problem I think you need to hear.

It's not the type of story I would normally cover but when I heard what happened to a little boy in St. Charles County and what his parents are dealing with everyday, I thought it was something that needed to be shared.
 
Greg and Erin Gruver are the proud parents of nine-year-old Kaleb. Their only child has Down syndrome and from birth they knew there would be certain challenges. But on August 30, their challenges got much worse.
 
Erin was on a riding lawnmower and Kaleb walked up behind her. Erin didn't see him and Kaleb's foot was almost completely severed off. She told me while crying that, “all he has left now is … the heel.”
 
It's been one doctor visit and one surgery after another. Their living room has become Kaleb's bedroom but his wheelchair won't fit through the bathroom doors. And as hard as that is, it's nothing compared to a depressing reality: the Gruver's don't have health insurance for Kaleb.
 
They told me, “in front of him we try to stay strong when he sees us upset we won't cry in front of him because then he will get upset.”
 
Greg works two full time jobs but says his employer stopped offering private insurance two years ago. The Gruvers say they make too much to qualify for Medicaid and finding private insurance has been tough because some insurers won't cover Kaleb because of his Down syndrome. 
 
The medical bills are starting to arrive. Kaleb was rushed by ambulance to Mercy hospital.
Greg says he was there for 30 minutes; that bill was more than $8,000. Doctors at Mercy sent him to Children’s Medical Center by helicopter; that bill is more than $21,000. Bills for the surgeries haven't even started to arrive. 
 
The Gruvers say the accident could force them into bankruptcy. Through the bad times there has been some good. Neighbors pitched in and built a wheelchair ramp. Friends held a fund raiser at an O’Fallon gas station.
 
The law that makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny children like Kaleb doesn't go into effect until 2014. There's going to be a lot of unknowns between now and then. But the worst part, according to Greg and Erin, is not knowing if Kaleb will ever walk. Doctors won't give them a definitive yes.
 
Before this story aired I got a call from the Shriners, they want to help with Kaleb's ongoing medical care.
 
But there are still lots of medical expenses. An account has been set up if you would like to donate to the family to help with medical costs.
 
The account is at US Bank under the title "The Gruver Family Trust."

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