Relentless mail follows stillbirth

Seven On Your Side
June 4, 2008 5:39:10 PM PDT
Losing an unborn child is hard enough for parents, but constantly being reminded of what happened can make the pain much worse. A local couple kept receiving letters from Medicaid after they lost their child.

For Christine Duenas and Bill Kawecki, a crib has become a shrine for the daughter they lost, Olive Lucy.

"It's still a battle everyday just to keep your head up," said Duenas.

Making matters worse are the regular reminders they get when they go to the mailbox.

"So on top of having the traumatic loss of our daughter, we're now faced on a regular basis with ridiculous mail from Medicaid that seems to be relentless at this point," she said.

Lucy died before she was born in August 2007. She was almost full term, so her death was not a miscarriage. She was stillborn. Even so, Medicaid, which is Christine's insurer, regularly sends letters asking the grieving parents for information about the baby.

"They don't seem to understand what a horrific thing it is to continuously receive this mail about 'insure your child now' or 'pick which insurance you want for them.' It's like a slap in the face every month," said Duenas.

She says months of trying to explain this problem to Medicaid has not stopped the letters.

"They're asking specifically for a death certificate, which you don't get when you have a still death. It's not something that you receive," she said.

It turns out this problem is nationwide in states like New York that don't provide death certificates for stillborn babies. Medicaid is working to fix that. In the meantime, they have resolved Christine's problem.

"I'm not afraid to go to the mailbox anymore," said she.

Medicaid promised that the letters about Lucy would stop.

Christine is now five months pregnant with their second child. While nothing will replace the loss of Lucy, they hope a new child might help repair the hole in their hearts.