The sunshine is nicest after night of gloom

DAN RODRICKS

November 21, 1992|By DAN RODRICKS

I have good news and bad news, but I'll give you the bad news first because that's how I got it -- first thing yesterday morning, delivered to my desk. I didn't have to dig for it.

From the Dundalk-Edgemere area came word that, last weekend, someone broke into the home of Richard and Mary Fisher. That might strike you as just drizzle from the daily crime blotter, but there's more to the story.

Richard and Mary Fisher were killed in a traffic accident outside Orlando, Fla., in the wee hours of Thursday, Nov. 5. The accident occurred while the Fishers were on vacation with their kids, Rickey, 10, and Ashley, 7. The kids were staying with friends in the Orlando area when their parents were killed. They are now staying with an aunt, Mary Fisher's sister, in Anne Arundel County. The tragedy received considerable news coverage.

The Fishers' detached home in Chesapeake Village was empty when, either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, someone broke open a side basement door, went through the house and made off with stereo equipment and jewelry. The break-in was discovered about 8:45 a.m. Sunday, apparently by a neighbor.

No arrests have been made. Nor has anyone in authority said what everyone close to the Fisher tragedy has been thinking -- that some low form of life heard about the Fisher tragedy, knew the house would be empty and took the opportunity to burglarize it. If that's the case, is there a word for such an act? You start with "disgusting" and descend from there into terms unprintable. News like this leaves your outlook thoroughly bleak.

But now, as promised, some good news.

George Sisson, principal of Chesapeake Terrace Elementary School, where the Fisher kids are enrolled, said that, in the two weeks since it was established, the trust fund for Rickey and Ashley has received more than $5,400 in contributions. "And more came in [yesterday]," Sisson said. The Fisher kids, he added, returned to classes Monday and are getting a lot of support from teachers and students.

The good news doesn't end there. I have more.

Remember the Troutmans, Doreen and Rob? Their problems were detailed in this space Oct. 24.

Doreen has had muscular dystrophy since she was 7. She's now 35 and can no longer move; the disease has made her a quadriplegic. She breathes with the assistance of a machine in the front room of her home in Randallstown.

Rob took care of Doreen until last March, when an accident on a construction site left him with a herniated disc. He had surgery in summer.

With her husband still incapacitated, Doreen needs a home health-care worker, probably for the rest of her life.

But the Troutmans can't afford one, their health-insurance plan won't cover it, and their government is no help.

Rob's workmen's compensation is $289 a week and, according to the rules, that's too much income for the Troutmans to qualify for regular medical assistance from the state or federal governments. Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security all denied benefits. The Troutmans had a long and frustrating summer and early fall. A negative-pressure ventilator, one of two machines that keep Doreen breathing, broke down. Her insurance company, which had purchased the machine, would not pay for its $865 repair.

When we caught up with the Troutmans last month, they were still in crisis -- and no government agency seemed willing to move from the blockheaded policies that denied this otherwise independent couple help through a tough time.

But, as promised, there's good news.

Some "concerned persons in the community" -- that's how they want to be identified -- have come forward to pay indefinitely for in-home nursing care for Doreen. Two lodges of the Masons have raised some money. Jackie Acree, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics in Westview Mall, will give Doreen an in-home beauty treatment. And persons anonymous at Good Samaritan Hospital have offered to pay Doreen's monthly medicine bills, which total $380 a month once she reaches the annual maximum allowed by her insurance policy (and Doreen reached the max in September). The hospital also bought a new piece of equipment ($249) for Doreen's positive-pressure ventilator and agreed to pay the remaining $2,600 owed on the machine. Beautiful. And the folks at Good Sam didn't even put out a press release announcing this generosity; I had to dig the good news out of them.

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