A family with roots in Turlock is hoping that their old neighbors and friends can come to their aid as they find themselves far from home and unable to return because of a medical crisis.
Jerry Esteves, 62, is a former Turlock Police officer and spent 20 years as a counselor with Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock. He and his wife Eni and daughter Clare were on a vacation in the Virgin Islands when a fall left him with a shattered pelvis. Now, instead of enjoying the sunny beaches and the warm waters, Jerry Esteves finds himself in a hospital bed and his family is trying to navigate a tangled web of bureaucracy, insurance and finances in an attempt to have him transported home.
“Right now we just don’t know what to do,” said Eni Esteves. “Jerry is trying to keep his sense of humor, but his pain is excruciating. He needs medical care that they can’t provide here.”
Jerry Esteves had a kidney transplant 16 years ago and the medications to keep him from rejecting the organ have caused other health issues.
“He’s been ill and his doctors told him he’s not going to get better, so if he wants to get out and travel he should do it now while he still can,” Eni Esteves said.
The family arrived in the Virgin Islands on July 3 to join Jerry’s two sisters, who were vacationing on the islands as well. The sisters left Thursday and shortly thereafter Jerry had his accident.
“Jerry was using a wheelchair and nothing here is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant,” Eni Esteves said. “He was trying to get over a curb when the wheelchair fell over and sent him to the ground, crushing his pelvis.”
With the immediate injury seen to, the Esteves family wanted to get Jerry back to their home in Manteca so that he can get the medical care he needs and begin his recuperation. His current condition prevents him from flying commercial, so the family started looking at medical flights, which is when they learned of the hefty price.
“First we were told it would cost around $80,000 then $55,000,” Eni Esteves said. “There is an option for a flight to Miami that we are trying to get information on, but we are not sure of the price or if his insurance [Medi-Care] will pay for it or even a portion of it.”
There’s also an issue of medical clearance. Eni said her husband needs to meet with a social worker, but so far they haven’t had any help in getting one to the hospital.
“It’s just crazy here,” Eni said of the bureaucracy.
The vacation was to last through Monday. After that, Eni is not sure where she and her daughter will stay if Jerry is still being kept at the hospital.
A Go Fund Me page has been started for the family to help with the expenses of getting him home.
“Maybe the insurance will pay for the flight to Miami and from there we can work on getting him home,” Eni Esteves said. “If that’s the case then we can give all the money donated back. But in the meantime at least it gives us some hope."
The Go Fund Me link is https://www.gofundme.com/2dapfz8.