Annie Howard’s story is not unique – and that’s exactly why she wanted to tell it.
Across Michigan every school year, MEA members help others cope with debilitating illnesses and accidents by donating sick days to those in need. In Howard’s case, Adrian Education Association members helped the 14-year veteran art teacher tend to a newborn daughter who needed open heart surgery.
It’s easy to take the union for granted, she said, but the past year has made Howard appreciate the behind-the-scenes work of local association leaders: bargaining a sick day bank into the contract; administering donations of sick days; ensuring members have quality health care.
Howard qualified for medical case management through her MESSA health care plan, which provided help navigating the labyrinth of medical appointments. Her case manager, a nurse, attended appointments, cleared up billing errors, and explained insurance forms.
“I knew I always had back-up,” Howard said.
Pulling out a two-inch stack of bills from the closet, she expressed relief that her “million-dollar baby” had not financially destroyed her family. She and husband Chris, a Truancy Prevention Specialist at the Lenawee ISD, so far have paid their deductible and some minor costs.
In addition, the Howards received weekly home visits from a MESSA nurse to monitor the baby’s health and assist the new parents in caring for the special needs of a high-risk infant during a months-long period when the baby was too fragile to go out in public.
“The support of the union has just been amazing in so many ways,” Howard said. “I can’t say enough.”
MESSA’s Medical Case Management Program (MCM) provides the personal support of a registered nurse to members who experience catastrophic illness or injury.
For more information about MCM, please contact the MESSA Health Care Resources department at 800.441.4626 or visit Health Resources at www.MESSA.org.