BY LISA WARREN
Vicie Motz, of Greeneville, will be honored May 7 as a "Mother of the Year" by the Tennessee Justice Center during an upcoming awards ceremony in Nashville.
Motz, along with five other Tennessee women, will be recognized during the event, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Nashville office of Stites and Harbison law firm, SunTrust Plaza, Suite 800, 401 Commerce Street. The reception is open to the public.
The honor is being given in recognition of Motz's "persistence in battling to obtain medical services for her adopted son and for her extraordinary commitment to the health care of all children and families," according to a news release from the Tennessee Justice Center.
Motz is the mother of three adopted special needs children. It was her fight over her 12-year-old son Trevor's medical care needs was what prompted the Justice Center to recognize her, the release says.
"Trevor is extremely medically fragile," the release says. "He is non-ambulatory and non-verbal, and uses an overhead lift system to move and a percussion vest to help him breathe."
For the past three years, the little boy had been receiving full-time nursing care at home. However, last July, his in-home nursing care benefits were unexpectedly reduced by more than half by the TennCare program, the release says.
This cut was made "with no notice to his family, which is a violation of the law," the release says.
Motz contacted the Tennessee Justice Center to request assistance for her son. Based in Nashville, the Center is a non-profit public interest law and advocacy firm serving Tennessee famliles. The organization has frequently advocated for the rights of TennCare recipients.
In response to Motz's plea, the Center "wrote a letter asking TennCare to provide Trevor the nursing care that his doctor had prescribed. Days later, Trevor's care was reinstated," the release says.
According to the Center, more than 640,000 children rely on the state's TennCare program to provide for their health care needs.
"Vicie Motz's devotion to her children and her persistence in fighting for what they need is an inspiring example of how Tennessee mothers - and grandmothers - bravely stand up for the rights of their children who are sick or have disabilities," said Michele Johnson, managing attorney at the Tennessee Justice Center, in the release.
"These caregivers face many obstacles in obtaining the care that their children need and taxpayers have already paid for them to receive," Johnson said. "Yet their vision and hope for their children is unyielding.
"Our annual Mothers of the Year recognition is a way to acknowledge their struggles, sacrifices, and devotion to their children," she added.
Motz also asked for the Justice Center's help with a TennCare policy that appeared to prevent her from leaving the house on short errands while the children were at home with their nurses. She was "faced with having to transport her three children, all of whom are wheelchair-bound, with her on the simplest trips to purchase groceries or to stop by the library - or not go at all," the release said.
The Justice Center "wrote to TennCare about this apparent violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The state immediately clarified this rule to allow Ms. Motz and other parents like her to leave their homes while their children are with nurses," the release said.
Motz said she is relieved to have her son's in-home nursing care reinstated.
"The Tennessee Justice Center is a lifesaver," Motz said. "The Center really cares about our family and will do what it takes to make sure my kids get the care they need."
In an interview with The Greeneville Sun, Motz said she was extremely surprised when she learned that she would receive this honor.
"The Tennessee Justice Center called and told me, and I didn't even know that they had such an award," Motz said.
"It's quite exciting, but I never thought that I did anything that any mother would not do," she added. "You just do what you have to do to get your kids what they need."
Motz and her late husband, Ron, who died in 2003, were the adopted parents of a special needs child, named Tyler, who passed away in 2004. Tyler was their only child.
After the deaths of her husband and son, Motz decided to again adopt. In addition to Trevor, she also adopted two other special needs children, Angel and Hunter, who are now both 5.