Ohio’s prolonged lockdown is literally a life-and-death matter for an Akron barber battling a rare form of cancer as she cannot reach world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine for treatment.
Peggy Reed is a barber with Stage 4 Squamous Cell cancer of the nasal cavity. Much of her medical story is told on her GoFundMe page here.
Reed missed her appointment at Johns Hopkins on March 26 to see a specialist. Ohio’s stay at home order means no out of state travel is allowed. Maryland also has a stay at home order.
Her lawyer, Thomas Renz of Renz Law LLC in Fremont, told The Ohio Star he is lobbying Ohio and Maryland to get an exemption for his client to travel.
On Wednesday, Renz said he reached an agreement with Johns Hopkins to conduct a telemedicine appointment with Reed. The problem with that solution, however, is that Ohio does not allow out-of-state practitioners to practice telemedicine in the state unless they are licensed in Ohio — even if that practitioner works at Johns Hopkins, widely viewed as one of the world’s leading hospitals. Renz said he is also trying to gain an exception in this instance.
Renz, on his website here, details some of the problems that the state’s and national orders have caused his client.
Some time ago, my client, Peggy, was diagnosed with cancer near her brain. It was a very rare form of cancer and most treatments for it were only recently developed so she was forced to go out of state for treatment. This was particularly difficult for her due to the fact that she was self-employed as a barber and so the time off meant no income.
While the surgery was successful, her survival hinged on follow-up treatment and the only physician that could do it was out of John’s Hopkins. As she was waiting for her appointment our elected officials decided to shut our nation down without considering all of the consequences. Whether you believe this helped keep us safe or not is less relevant than the fact that, for this wonderful lady, it meant her appointment was cancelled and she still cannot reschedule. Further, her business is shut down and she is very concerned about paying for the insurance necessary to pay for the treatment to keep her alive.
Renz said he believes people should stay safe and practice social distancing. However, making sweeping changes to the law without “full consideration of the consequences” means people like Reed fall through the cracks without having due process.
“In Peggy’s case, it is a very clear impact on her ability to survive,” Renz said. “It was not on purpose. There was no malice. There’s a reason we don’t allow the law to do things without a due process.”
So far, Reed has maintained insurance, but that is difficult and she may not be able to continue.
For now, Renz said he is focusing on lobbying government officials to make changes because fighting a court battle is time-consuming.
“We want to get her taken care of before we start that kind of fight,” he said.
Renz said his client is selfless. In 2017, she helped organize and load a shipment of supplies for hurricane relief — the day before having a surgery for her cancer.
“We understand people are dying” of COVID-19, Renz said. We’ don’t want that. But the CDC is blowing things a little out of proportion. We want to make sure this is being handled properly.”
Renz asked: If the shutdown is about flattening the curve, what major infrastructure projects has Ohio done to prepare hospitals if they expect an influx of patients since they took away people’s rights with no due process?
“We are not saying they do not have the police power to do that, but if we take away rights … where is the infrastructure?”
And, Reed is considered at-risk for the virus, but she wants to work.
“That’s her decision. She wants to work to afford health insurance. It doesn’t matter if we agree; it’s her decision. It’s a free society.”
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