Fredericton woman lobbies for prosthetic eye coverage
Cheryl Gillespie is hoping the New Brunswick government will consider funding prosthetic eyes
A Fredericton woman is fighting to have New Brunswick medicare pay for her prosthetic eyes.
Cheryl Gillespie was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of two. The inflammation from the disease spread to her eyes.
She spoke to the legislature Thursday afternoon to try to fight for medical coverage.
"I've always maintained that it is a health issue. It's both physical and mental health concern," she said in an interview with Maritime Noon. "It has a lot to do with the way a person feels about themselves, their self worth, self value and confidence level."
According to Gillespie, the current prosthetic eye costs are at $2,000 per eye, and it is necessary to replace them every five years.
"When you don't replace them or they are not maintained the way the should be there is risk of infection
If there is nothing in an eye socket, the walls within collapse."
PC MLA for Saint John East, Glen Savoie introduced a motion on Thursday to convince the government that there is a need for coverage for those who need prosthetic eyes.
"Social development will cover the cost, but only if you quit your job, which forces productive citizens to give up what financial independence they have.
Some people cannot get private medical coverage, so social development is their only option, other than paying out of pocket."
Gillespie says she has received social assistance in the past and doesn't want to return to the program.
"I had some experiences that were not positive. I don't feel that I can go down that road again. It's degrading and humiliating," she said.
"It is a health concern not a social assistance issue."
The government has already turned down Gillespie's request to have the cost covered. Savoie says the motion he introduced today asks for a co-pay system, similar to one used in Nova Scotia.
Gillespie, a piano teacher, is afraid that if the government refuses to consider her case, she will have to give up teaching.
"That's who I am. Everything I do focused around my teaching. I can't imagine not having that."
With files from Maritime Noon