Family Values @ Work

Tammy’s Story

Tammy’s Story

January 23, 2014

My name is Tammy Russo and I’m from Coventry, Rhode Island.

In October of 2012 my son Joey, 20, who has severe cognitive disabilities including autism and physical disabilities was hospitalized for 17 days. He underwent three major surgeries, two of them brain surgeries, and in addition needed 3 other surgical procedures.

Joey cannot be easily understood by others, is highly anxious, and can become combative if he is in unfamiliar, unpredictable places. Because of this my husband and I needed to take shifts at his bedside when he was hospitalized. We were active in his care in the hospital including getting Joey to take his required medications, toileting him, calming him when endless teams of medical strangers entered his room around the clock, and consoling him from the traumas of his hospitalization.

We were also responsible for his care at home upon discharge. This included infusion therapies, weekly blood work, open wound care that included packing and dressing his surgical sites, coordinating PT, OT, nursing care and durable medical equipment all on our own. Needless to say this type of care requires round the clock attention.

The financial strain of my FMLA leave was substantial but unfortunately its coverage wasn’t and I became very worried about how we would pay for all of our bills and still allow for my son to receive the care from the ones who know his needs best-my husband and I. The emotional and financial stresses could have been avoided if I had been able to receive Paid Family Leave help from the beginning of my son’s illness. I would not have worried about if our family could make the bills and afford our mortgage, utilities, insurances, and food during my weeks away from work and my paycheck.