Written by Angela Williamson, Dawson News and Advertiser
June 5, 2013
When 42 year old Dawson County resident James Loop started experiencing pain in his lower abdomen four months ago, his plan was to quickly seek medical attention and return to work.
But without health insurance, finding a doctor to diagnose his condition was far tougher than expected. After countless trips to doctors, he remained unsure of the reason for his pain.
Loop had no option but to leave work for what he expected to be a temporary period. His pain was unbearable, and he started experiencing uncontrollable hemorrhaging.
Sinking into a deep hole of despair without a steady income, over the next several months, Loop not only lost his home, but his savings were exhausted. He had no other option but to sleep in his car at a nearby campsite.
During a trip to the emergency room for urinary problems, Loop suffered a heart attack. Afterwards, he received a diagnosis for the cause of his pain. But it wasn’t news he was expecting.
“They told me I had bladder cancer,” said Loop. He thought “I’m homeless, I have no income, no insurance, no way to take care of myself, and now they tell me I’m dying.”
“A company was sent in to complete and application requesting medical assistance for me,” Loop said. “But I was heavily medicated and really don’t know how I answered the questions. I had always worked and paid my taxes,” he said. “Why wasn’t I able to get help?”
Loop said when he was discharged from the hospital he returned back to his car at the campsite. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get through this.” He lost all hope.
While Loop was in the hospital, his friend, Terri Reece was making phone calls seeking assistance for him. One of the first places she contacted was Dawson County Ninth District Opportunity, Inc. “She told me he was very sick and had no place to stay,” said Alice Williamson, Community Resource Coordinator for NDO, Inc. “I told her to have him to immediately get in touch with me.” Williamson also told Reece about a local organization assisting with temporary Housing, St. Vincent De Paul Society.
Reece shared the information with Loop, but he wasn’t getting his hopes up, yet. “I wanted to believe her,” he explained. “But I didn’t see how all of this was going to come together.”
After Loop sought help from NDO, an assessment was made on his case, and he was immediately approved for a housing program.
While he waited to move into his home, St. Vincent De Paul placed him in a hotel room.
“Three days from the time I came in, I had a home,” Loop said emotionally.
After researching the application completed at the hospital, Williamson noticed it hadn’t been submitted correctly.
“There’s an application specifically for people considered homeless and his wasn’t submitted that way,” explained Williamson. “It would have prioritized his above all others if it had been.”
Williamson contacted the proper administration and explained Loop’s situation, requesting his application for assistance to be changed, indicating he was homeless. After three weeks, Loop received the good news.
“He was immediately approved for Medicaid and presumptive Social Security Income until a final decision could be made on his claim,” explained Williamson. “If approved, he will likely receive Social Security Disability because he has paid in so much through working.”
“I couldn’t believe it happened so fast,” exclaimed Loop.
Williamson said several other local groups have joined the effort to help.
“I can’t explain how happy I am,” he said. I would have never thought programs like this existed.”
The sequence of life changing events has given him a renewed view of community resources.
“Alice talked with me and treated me like a friend,” said Loop. “She took time to really look over my application, and I don’t know what I would’ve done if she hadn’t.”
Loop said now he can offer advice to others who feel there is no one to help.
“There is help out there,” he said. “You just have to show you really need it and want it. I thought my story would go in one ear and out the other, but it didn’t.”
Williamson said there is a reason why he’s receiving the help he needs.
“He has been such an easy and motivated client to work with,” she said. These programs work if you want them to, and he wanted it.”
Williamson said the network of organizations and community resources in Dawson County are the reason behind it all.
“If it wasn’t for all of these great people donating their time and resources, we wouldn’t have success stories like this.”
And Loop said he is ready to get better.
“I’m making a urologist appointment today,” he said smiling.