Morgantown, W.Va, - On Thursday, August 27, 2015, Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer will be honored by AARP as a “Capitol Caregiver.”
Nominated for her work on behalf of family caregivers, Delegate Fleischauer is the only West Virginian to receive the award.
“We chose Delegate Fleischauer as our first Capitol Caregiver because of her legislation that regulates aides who perform health maintenance tasks in a person’s home, such as tube feedings, checking blood sugar and performing suctioning,” said Gaylene Miller, director of AARP WV.
A bi-partisan group of 46 legislators and 3 governors from 19 states will be receiving the award.
Fleischauer said Ken Ervin, a local disability activist, first contacted her about introducing health maintenance legislation. Ervin was distressed by the number of disabled West Virginians being sent to out-of-state nursing homes. West Virginia has a cap on the number allowed to be on a respirator in state nursing homes.
“Ken Ervin wanted West Virginians to be in their own homes whenever possible,” said Delegate Fleischauer. We passed three separate bills to put the legislation into place that he wanted. Although he died in 2007, we kept at it.”
“It is so demanding to be the sole caregiver for a loved one, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” added Fleischauer. “When this is fully implemented, family caregivers will have a chance to get a good night’s rest, and maybe take some time for themselves, which they deserve”.
When he lost 24 hour nursing services at age 18, forty-one year old Josh Hancock of Monongalia County was told by a state agency to consider placement in an out-of-state nursing home. Mr. Hancock, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, uses a respirator and ventilator to breathe. His seventy year old mother, Karen Hancock, has been caring for him his entire life in their home. Karen eventually developed back pain, and became unsure how much longer she would physically be able to keep up Josh’s care, or be able to pay for the additional help Josh needed, especially at night, when he needs to be suctioned 5-6 times.
But allowing her son to be placed in an out-of-state nursing home was unthinkable to Karen Hancock. “We just want to have Josh here at home, where he can be near his family and friends,” she said.
“This legislation will enable me to be more independent,” said Josh Hancock. “It will be nice for my Mom not to have to do everything for me.”
Delegate Fleischauer will receive her award from AARP at the Hilton Garden Inn in Suncrest Town Center, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.