Services to ill, injured expanding

Finksburg-based facility to have offices in two nearby counties

May 23, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Finksburg-based Catastrophic Health Planners Inc., which provides financial and other assistance to families dealing with unexpected illness and injury, is expanding its services with offices in Harford and Baltimore counties.

Lou Yeager, founder of the nonprofit organization, said the group is expanding to make it easier for volunteers to work with clients throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. CHP opened an office in Fallston two months ago and plans to open one in Rodgers Forge next month.

Yeager said many volunteers cannot afford to take a day off to go to the Finksburg office to work with a growing list of clients, who often are referred to CHP by hospitals. The organization also accepts walk-ins. CHP, which has a network of 300 volunteers -- many of whom work full time in the Baltimore area -- provides services for about 150 clients a month.

Through CHP, which began in Finksburg in 1993, clients can receive a range of services and goods, including one-on-one financial consultations, medical equipment, and money for rent and transportation -- all at no charge.

"We can't change that the tragedy occurred, but we can take some of the pain away," said Yeager, who credits his volunteers with providing clients professional expertise on a variety of topics. "We let people know what the rules are so that they can make informed decisions" on topics such as disability applications and insurance.

"I'm a gatekeeper and cancer survivor who motivates others," he said.

Inspired after reading a newspaper article on Yeager two years ago, Richard E. Grace began volunteering as a financial planner and will oversee the CHP office in Rodgers Forge. Employed by Lutherville-based Lincoln Financial Advisors, he charges $1,500 for a professional consultation. He waives the fee for CHP clients.

"The older you get, the more exposed you are to illness," said Grace, who lost his father to cancer 10 years ago. "You realize how fragile life can be. You start to appreciate your health and try to help those that aren't as fortunate."

Craig T. Noppinger and his partner Betsey Hartman have provided free space for CHP services at their business, Hartman-Noppinger Financial, on Belair Road in Fallston. Noppinger began volunteering for CHP eight years ago.

"Most people do not have their affairs in order" to handle the strain of living with a terminal illness or serious injury, Noppinger said. "We are dealing with individuals who are critically ill. It's crucial to get their estate in order. At times, it's extremely depressing but also extremely rewarding because you know you're helping a family out."

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