Story Bank: Kathy, Winslow

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Where did your parents work while you were growing up?

A: "My parents were mill workers, Woolen Mill workers, so we traveled around a lot. I have two brothers and a sister."

What was your childhood like?

A: "Chaotic. I was the oldest child, so, it was kind of difficult for me. I felt like, gee, I had to go through the firsts of everything. I babysat my siblings a lot. It was good. We had a good childhood."

What have you been up to since high school?

A: "Raised my child and became a hairdresser. I've been a hairdresser for 32 years. I had to go to school to learn the trade after 10 years of being out of high school."

What types of employment have you engaged in?

A: "I've done Woolen Mill work, C.F. Hathaway shirt company, I've been a waitress, cashier. The typical, the whole gaming. When we were younger, my parents couldn't afford to send four children to school. Back in the day it was more, college was more for the boys than the girls so my sister and I didn't have college educations. [You would] take whatever job you could get. At 14 I picked potatoes. I was able to buy my school clothes for the first year. My mother didn't buy them, I did. I could pick out what I wanted."

How long have you been without health insurance?

A: "I think three years. I was notified by mail that I no longer qualified for MaineCare, like a lot of other people in my situation."

Do you have any medical conditions that require treatment?

A: "I do have emphysema and COPD and I need oxygen. I've slowed down a lot. When I get a cold now, I'm sick a lot longer than I should be. My oxygen level drops very low. I don't sleep well. I'm irritable. It all has to do with lack of oxygen."

How has lack of health insurance impacted you?

A: When the company showed up at my house and had to take all my [medical equipment], all of it because I couldn't pay for it. To have everything taken away like it has, it's just unbelievable. It's not fair."

Do you have any anxieties around your medical challenges?

A: "If I end up in the hospital, what am I going to do? Number one, I'm self-employed so that means no income if I'm laid up and then I have no way to pay for anything. I have no way to pay for hospital bills or doctor bills. I know I'm not the only person that has no oxygen. They have to choose which prescription to get because they can't afford the whole kit and caboodle."

Why is MaineCare important to you?

A: "Just being able to go to the doctor for a check-up and not having to worry if you find a spot or a lump and say, 'well gee, I can't get this done because...,' or getting your children in for whatever reasons that need to be taken care of. Not it be a total, break the bank to have health insurance. It's terrible."