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Morristown woman’s hospital release delayed by need for pricy BiPAP machine

Betty Bennett of Morristown must come up with enough cash to acquire a BiPAP machine for sleep apnea in order to return home from the hospital after a close call landed her in an intensive care unit seven weeks ago.
Betty Bennett of Morristown must come up with enough cash to acquire a BiPAP machine for sleep apnea in order to return home from the hospital after a close call landed her in an intensive care unit seven weeks ago. - Submitted

MIDDLETON – A Morristown woman is in desperate need of a BiPAP machine that will make it possible for her to leave the hospital and manage her sleep apnea from the comforts of home.

But Betty Bennett isn’t holding her breath.

As of May 23, she’d been hospitalized for seven weeks following an emergency trip to the intensive care unit at Valley Regional Hospital.

“Her brain was shutting down,” explains Bennett’s sister, Marjorie Cleveland.

“When I took her in, her oxygen levels were supposed to run between 98 and 99, hers was 40-something – very scary.”

Cleveland urged her sister to go to the doctor for a check-up after noticing that the extreme fatigue and a loss of appetite they originally believed to be cold or flu-like symptoms were not subsiding.

“She had been sick over the winter and she just thought it was a cold,” recalled Cleveland.

The situation was dire by the time Bennett was hospitalized.

“We almost lost her twice,” said Cleveland.

Doctors determined that Bennett experienced carbon dioxide poisoning as a result of sleep apnea. A blood clot was found in her neck and a lung.

“When I was taken into ICU my oxygen was only 44 and my doctor said he couldn’t believe that I even drove and, if I would have stayed home another night, I probably wouldn’t have woke up,” said Bennett in a brief phone interview from her new hospital room at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Middleton May 22.

“My body when I slept at night wasn’t putting out what it was supposed to be putting out for carbon dioxide… I remember getting on the stretcher and I don’t remember anything for two days later when they took me out of an induced coma.”

Medical treatment brought her around to the point that she could have returned home after two weeks if she had a BiPAP machine and oxygen, Bennett said. The projected $4,500 price tag, however, has significantly extended her hospital stay.

“I’m just at my wit’s end,” she said.

“Tomorrow is my birthday and I don’t want to be in here.”

She’s reached out to social services and MLAs, but has yet to receive word of what, if any, financial assistance is available to help her purchase a BiPAP machine and the equipment necessary for a portable oxygen setup outside of the hospital.

“I’m a widow on low income and I’m going to need new prescriptions when I get out, so there’s co-payment for that,” the 61-year-old said, adding that she must adhere to a special diet as well.

“My head is just spinning all the time.”

Every day she waits for an answer is another day spent in the hospital.

“Am I ever going to get out of here?,” she asks.

“I’d rather be home in my own bed and then somebody that really needs the hospital bed could be in it.”

Bennett’s family has set up an online GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign called “Help Betty Come Home” in an effort to raise funds for the much-needed medical equipment.

“Anything that anybody can do is very much appreciated.”

Donations can be placed here: https://www.gofundme.com/5q4me-help-betty-come-home?pc=sms_co_cards

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