County Pulse

County Pulse: People come through with support for Modesto mother caring for sons with MS

kcarlson@modbee.comJanuary 3, 2014 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

Terri Perez received generous support from local folks after her story appeared in The Modesto Bee last week.

Perez, 61, of Modesto, is the caregiver for two adult sons who suffer from multiple sclerosis and are bed-bound in the northeast Modesto home rented by the family. Circumstances were particularly hard for Perez during the holidays because she was recovering from back surgery.

She had sounded down in the dumps when I followed Dr. Priti Modi’s suggestion that I call her. Modi is the family’s physician, and Perez has worked as an office manager for her practice. The story was a sort of Book of Dreams piece that was too late for the paper’s annual fundraiser.

The Bee received more than 30 calls and emails from people offering to help. Perez said Friday she received enough contributions to cover rent this month. Others familiar with government-sponsored home care shared advice that her sons, Miguel and Juan, are almost certainly eligible for more than five or six hours of care per week.

Perez said she and her sons enjoyed the cards and gestures that brightened the family’s holiday. A man who knocked on her door brought a small cross that he and his wife had picked up on a Holy Land trip. He told her it seemed right to give her the cross. It’s made from the wood of a tree that lived for 2,000 years in that part of world, said Perez, a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

An MS group is working to obtain a special bed that will be more suitable for Juan Perez. Terri Perez is healing from surgery and plans to return to work in March.

“We had a Christmas tree this year with no presents under it, but we were given the best gifts anybody could have,” she said.

Health care debate

The situation with canceled health insurance policies and Covered California enrollments has stirred intense emotions in our county and across the state. A Central Valley reporter who covers the issue may see a message come across the screen like one from a man in Irvine. As he waited on hold to talk with an insurance company about the status of a new policy, the man vented frustrations that others can agree with:

“My summary of the situation is this: The government canceled my health care insurance, and developed a system where it has been impossible to replace it. I’m now without insurance. My wife is without insurance. We cannot make contact with our new potential insurance provider. I expect when we do, they will have no record of our application and we will start over for February.”

There are an unknown number of Californians who have fought through the process and are now covered, perhaps after years of going without insurance. But some conservatives are advocating for the 1 million state residents who lost individual policies that didn’t meet the new federal standards. They are wondering why hearings are not convened in Sacramento to investigate the problems with Covered California and implementation of the federal health law.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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