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Shutdown Would Separate Parents From Children

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For weeks, everyone has been talking about the possible Minnesota government shutdown on July 1. For most, a shutdown would be an inconvenience. For some, it would be the loss of a job. But for some families, a shutdown means separation.

Living at home with your children is a reality most parents take for granted.

"Imagine not being with your baby, put your baby somewhere else and you don't have access to it unless you physically get in your car and go see them," said Suzanne Ullom.

Shelby Ullom Holding Her Mother's Hand
(credit: Ullom Family)

That's what life was like for the Ullom family before Pediatric Home Service brought their baby home.

Headquartered in the northern suburb of Roseville, PHS is a private company that specializes in providing care and supplies for sick children. Owner Susan Wingert said due to the troubled economy, roughly 40 percent of their payments come from Medicaid.

Just two days before they were scheduled to receive their June check from the Department of Human Services, PHS found out their payment has been deferred. Wingert said she's worried about the future of her company because they depend on that income.

"It will cripple us," said Wingert. "If it was just June, could I weather it? Yes. Would it be tough? You bet. But because of the impending shutdown I won't get that payment during the first part of July because there's nobody there to give that to me."

PHS gets roughly $1,600 per day from the state. If that money isn't available, hundreds of children will be sent back to the hospital, which costs the state approximately $4,500 per day.

"So the cost to the state is gonna skyrocket," said Wingert.

But more important than the money is the hundreds of lives that will be impacted, like the life of 14-month-old Shelby Ullom.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO's Samantha Smith Talks With Ullom Family


"Shelby was born 16 weeks and two days too early … and has been fighting ever since day one," said Suzanne, Shelby's mother.

Shelby Ullom
(credit: Ullom Family)

Dan and Suzanne Ullom say Shelby was a micro preemie and weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces at birth. She spent the next year in three hospitals in three different states undergoing various surgeries and procedures.

Suzanne Ullom Holding Shelby For First Time
(credit: Ullom Family)

"The care is good in the hospital, but it's not Mom and Dad. And siblings aren't allowed in there," said her parents.

Dan, Suzanne, and Shelby Ullom
(credit: Ullom Family)

But thanks to PHS, Shelby now has portable equipment and a 24-hour nurse by her side so she can live at home, where she belongs.

Shelby Ullom In Her Car Seat
(credit: Ullom Family)

"It means absolutely everything that I am to have my family home and together," said Suzanne.

Without these services, Suzanne and Dan say their child simply couldn't survive.

"It would be a matter of minutes … yeah, she would go down pretty quickly if she didn't have it. She's completely oxygen dependent; she can't breathe on her own. She's on a ventilator that breathes for her 100 percent of the time," they said.

Shelby Ullom Smiling
(credit: Ullom Family)

Shelby has made huge improvements since moving home and her parents say the prognosis is good. They hope that with time she'll be able to get rid of all the equipment and live an independent life.

Shelby Ullom
(credit: Ullom Family)

When asked if they now have a better outlook for her future since she is home and not in the hospital:

"By far, she's made leaps and bounds from being home," said Suzanne.

It has been a tough road for this young family and the thought of Shelby regressing because she has to return to the hospital, nearly brings her mother to tears.

"It's just gut-retching to think that they're taking this opportunity away from a little child that deserves the world for how hard she's fraught," Suzanne said.

Smiling Shelby Ullom
(credit: Ullom Family)

For now, the Ulloms sit and wait, hoping and praying for a budget agreement that will keep their family together.

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