Rhonda Robinson had an awful scare Saturday night, but now she's feeling better—and encouraged.
The Indy profiled Robinson, a Durham mom and community activist, in our cover story last week on the battle for health care reform ("A face of the uninsured, a state of denial"). An epileptic, she lost her health insurance when she was laid off from her state government job a year ago. Since then, she hasn't seen a neurologist, nor has she been able to afford the prescription medications she needs to control her seizures. She was living in fear that she might have a potentially fatal grand mal seizure.
On Saturday, Robinson suffered such a seizure and was rushed by ambulance to Duke University Hospital, where she was treated in the emergency room and admitted overnight. On Sunday, though in severe pain caused by the shock to her body and a migraine headache, she was able to come home, where she continued to rest Tuesday morning.
"I'm in a lot of pain," Robinson said during a brief phone call. But she added, "I am so encouraged. I have people calling and offering help and raising money for me. It's wonderful."
She said a neurologist at Duke has offered to see her, "though he knows I can't pay him." Another call led her to Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, where she bought one of her two medications for just $50, a fraction of its usual cost. Durham City Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden offered to pay for the other one, Robinson said. A new state program for uninsured people with critical medical problems may also help.
Friends who've seen her are amazed at Robinson's resilience. "Her face is swollen, she has terrible headaches," said Michael Pearlmutter, a fellow member of Durham For Obama, who brought her some fruit on Sunday. "She still manages to be in good spirits. She wanted to talk about politics... ."
An e-mail alert sent to Durham For Obama members Sunday prompted members to donate food, money and offer potential connections to health care services, according to Faulkner Fox. Robinson faces a big bill for treatment in the ER and an overnight stay, Fox said. Durham For Obama, a political organization, cannot accept charitable contributions, so Fox has established a fund for Robinson's medical expenses. Checks should be made out to Southern Coalition for Social Justice. In the memo line, write: "Create the Change/ Rhonda Robinson Fund." Mail checks to Southern Coalition for Social Justice, 115 Market St., Suite 470, Durham, NC 27701.