Legal Aid’s Long Term Care Assistance Project chalked up a major victory for a severely disabled nursing home resident with a broken wheelchair. “The client first called us two years ago because his wheelchair was over 11 years old, was falling apart and he couldn’t get parts to repair it because it had been discontinued,” said staff attorney Anne Haffner. “It had caught fire while he was sitting in it due to a product defect–the product had been recalled, but nobody at the nursing home knew. ”
The question: Who would pay for a new power wheelchair? After many months of wrangling, staff attorney Natalie McCeney (now retired) and former law clerk Darlyn McLaughlin were able to obtain partial funding from the nursing home and a significant sum from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (the client had been shot during a car-jacking over 17 years ago, which left him quadriplegic).
“This amount, coupled with a manufacturer’s discount, enabled our client to receive a new chair,” reported Haffner, who took over the case last fall. “There were many bumps along the way. But by late June our client was able to receive his brand new, fully equipped power wheelchair.” The nursing home contributed $5,000 and the CICB contributed $10,000. The price of $15,000 was discounted by the supplier as well (a new wheelchair is usually $20,000).