Family faces thousands in home retrofit costs to bring dad home

·3 min read

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of Haley Flaro's name. We regret the error.

Danny Scott recently lost his left leg to medical complications from diabetes. He may soon lose his right leg. And when he is released from the hospital, he faces another problem: getting through his own front door.

“It’s been hard. It’s scary. It’s stressful,” said Kellie Bailey, Danny's daughter. Her father's medical struggles and the financial burden have put pressure on the Salisbury family.

Scott, who is 59, worked at Hub Meat Packers until the day it closed in 2014. Since then, he has taken on jobs from mowing lawns to snowplowing, Bailey said.

But his medical condition means he can’t do this work or other things he loves, like hopping in the car to visit his children and grandchildren.

It also means he can’t come home.

Scott has been in the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Regional Hospital since September, Bailey said. The family was told it would take approximately eight weeks to recover in the hospital after the amputation, she said. It's now January, and the house, which Scott built 25 years ago, needs to be retrofitted extensively to make room for a wheelchair, another purchase the family will need to make. The entire main floor needs changes: A wall needs to be torn down, doors need to be widened, the front door needs a ramp and the bathroom is inaccessible, Bailey said.

The family does not yet know the full costs involved. They are having conversations with contractors and others now, but they know the price will be considerable.

“Living with a mobility disability can be costly and many people face extraordinary costs even if they have insurance,” said Haley Flaro, executive director of Ability New Brunswick. "Modifying homes, retrofitting vehicles, adapted equipment and other disability supports can be cost prohibitive."

A wheelchair can cost between $5,000 for a manual wheelchair and $30,000 for a power wheelchair, said Flavo, and outdoor ramps run from $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the length needed.

Funding is sometimes available through private insurance, government supports and community funding programs. Flavo's organization works with families and individuals like the Scotts to help them navigate the system and find any funding that might be available, she said. But many families find themselves in a grey area of having no insurance and not being eligible for social development money, so they resort to talking on debt or holding online fundraising campaigns, Flavo said.

For now, the family started a fundraiser on GoFundMe simply called Help Danny Scott, said Bailey.

Karen Scott, Danny’s wife, said she “really appreciates everyone who has stepped forward with donations or volunteering their time, and those who have reached out with prayers.”

A man of few words, Danny Scott said he wants people to know how much their help means to him.

As of Wednesday at 5 p.m. the GoFundMe fundraiser had raised close to $6,000.

The family was never rich. Bailey said it was only in 2019 that her parents took their first real vacation, a trip to Cuba. But she remembers seeing her father do things for others worse off, like buying groceries for other families down on their luck.

“I want people to know how good a man he really is,” said Bailey.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal