My name is Michelle Patnesky and I have worked in the hospitality industry as a waitress for the last 30 years. My husband’s name is Joe, who works from home and he is an Independent Contractor. We have 6 kids. At the time of writing this story, our kids are Errin 28 (does not live with us), Michah 24 (does not live with us), Michael 23 (does not live with us), Hailee 17 (16 at time of accident), Caira 14, and Noah 7. We had just moved from a house in the town of Medford, Oregon, to a single-wide trailer on half an acre of land (we had been saving for our own piece of property for years) in Central Point, Oregon – 4 days prior to the event that turned the lives of our family upside down.
On Saturday, January 9, 2021, I dropped our daughter off at the Stop and Go Mart right down the street from our new home on the way to run an errand. Our 16 year old daughter Hailee, our daughter Caira, and a friend of Caira’s were walking back home (a new home to us) a few blocks from there. Hailee was walking near the edge of the road and the other 2 girls next to her, when Hailee was suddenly hit by a driver at around 5:30pm on a clear sunny day.
I was coming home from an errand and turned down the street and there were ambulances on the road. I turned around and rolled down my window and asked the police lady what happened. She said a kid was hit on their bike and no helmet. She said the parents were on the scene. I was relieved it wasn’t one ouf our kids and then continued to go home because I knew my kids were walking. I pulled in the driveway, went in, and my sister-in-law’s husband was in the house with my son Noah. I was surprised by this because when I left, my husband had been home. He told me to call my husband Joe, that Hailee had been hit by a car (we would later learn that a vehicle driven by a young autistic man with cognitive disabilities, hearing problems, and a member of the Special Olympics was who veered off the road and hit our daughter).
I immediately called my husband, not knowing what to expect. Joe told me which hospital they were at, and to “hurry and come quick”. I got back in my vehicle and raced to the hospital on the freeway as fast as I could go. I couldn’t arrive fast enough. My mind was all over the place. When I arrived, I flew into a parking space, then ran into the emergency room, saw Joe, and fell into his arms.
The accident happened right in front of our home. Joe had heard the crash and was outside when it happened. He thought one of our 4 dogs might have gotten hit. Then he took a head count and they were all in the yard still. Joe then just had that gut feeling it was Hailee. He ran to the scene and found her laying in the middle of the road unconscious and bleeding from her head. Joe then called 9-1-1. Caila and her friend had witnessed Hailee getting hit. and being thrown several feet into the air, and then landing.
The driver was given a breathalyzer, which he passed. He said he didn’t see Hailee. We think he was distracted while he was driving since he only hit one of the girls of the three, and it was a straight country road, and it wasn’t even dark out yet. Law enforcement looked him over and then released him from the scene. He was not charged or even given any kind of a traffic ticket for hitting her either. Hailee on the other hand, was immediately rushed to the hospital.
At the hospital Hailee was diagnosed with skull fractures, skull separation, brain bleeding and swelling. She had a broken clavicle, a couple of bones in her nose, and a bone where her right eyebrow is. Hailee was eventually moved to Intensive Care and placed into a medically induced coma and put on life support. The doctors continued to tell us that Hailee’s fight was hour by hour, day by day with no guarantee.
Hailee was your typical teenager who was always having fun, listening to music, and never got into trouble. Hailee played the violin for years and is a Junior in High School. She has always been very loving and caring. She had just gotten her driver’s license on December 23, 2020 – and even had a job at Dairy Queen for about 6 months at the time of the accident. We looked at her there, lying in a hospital bed. We didn’t know if she was going to live or die.
Our daughter was in a fight for her life. The doctors came out to us at one point and asked how far we wanted them to go to save her life. They asked, “If we have to remove her skull do you want us to?” We said, “Yes! Anything, to save her life!”
January 12, 2021 the hospital started feeding her through a tube and slowly removing Hailee from her sedatives. When they checked her eyes with a pen light, there was response to light in the right eye and the left eye was still fixed. On January 13 we started playing Hailee’s playlist from her phone for her. On January 13, when they checked her eyes with a pen light she had cornea response (even though no dilation still). This was so huge to us. The Neurosurgeon also came in and gave her a 4 on the Glasgow Coma Scale of 15. Then they sedated her again.
January 14 Hailee’s story aired on KTVL Channel 10 News at 6pm. On January 15, 2021 the nurses finally were able to see some dilation at 3 different times in Hailee’s eyes. This was amazing news. To us, it was a sign that all the prayers for Hailee and our family were working. We believed in her survival and refused to give up on her.
We were in the hospital for 8 days when they decided they needed to do a bilateral craniotomy and cut her from ear to ear across the top of her head, because they could no longer control her ICP pressures. So, they removed her skull on January 17, 2021. The swelling on her brain started to reduce.
January 19, 2021 KDRV Channel 10 aired an update about Hailee at 5pm. January 21, 2021 Hailee coughed so hard that it surprised her nurse. Due to the heavy sedation this is not common. I saw this as another miracle.
On January 23, she retracted from a pain response by the doctor. I was uplifted and hopeful. The doctors are just calling it a reflex and nothing to get excited about. She was also coughing a lot on her own. January 23, 2021 both eyes started reacting for doctor from Hailee. This was truly wonderful news.
January 24, 2021 her head, hand, and foot were moving. January 25, 2021 Hailee’s eyes opened and closed at least 10 times. Amazing! The nurse is skeptical and not believing that this is a real change. I see it as another miracle and not giving up on our girl at all!!!
January 26, 2021 Hailee squeezed the nurse’s hand while I was talking to her.
January 27, 2021 Hailee got a haircut today since all her hair was matted from the accident. She kept moving her head and squeezed both of my hands, and moved her left leg. A nurse came in and said tomorrow all tubing would be taken out of her mouth and she would receive a tracheotomy tomorrow (which is supposed to help her when she wakes up). She also opened her eyes on command from the nurse. The nurse told Hailee she was in the hospital and tears ran down Hailee’s face. The nurse said Hailee was sad and the nurse said that kind of a response was incredible.
January 28, 2021 Hailee got her feeding tube and her tracheotomy. Both were a success.
January 29, 2021 Hailee’s meds being turned down even more and she is becoming more responsive. The Elementary and Middle schools sent a collection of cards to us. This made us feel very grateful and it was much appreciated.
By February 1st, the doctors were ready to remove her off of her medically induced coma medications after being in it for 21 days. They replaced her skull on February 4, 2021, and then on February 5th she developed an ulcer around the tracheotomy, which the doctors said was common. She also developed a rash so they started giving her Benadryl.
February 7, they started Hailee on a brain stimulant. February 11 they moved Hailee to Pediatrics. They said they don’t believe she will “wake up due to the damage to her brain, but they have seen miracles before”. They asked what Hailee would want. I can only think she would say “I want to live”.
In February we got an attorney. We wanted to sue the driver who hit Hailee. On day 24, Hailee started coming around and she could open and close her eyes, swallow, cough, move her hands and feet to being tickled, move her head back and forth, though not tracking with her eyes. The doctors told us her EEG was disappointing.
February 16, 2021 we were told that Hailee would not “wake up” and the hospital wasn’t expecting much for improvement. Our whole family took this very hard and we refused to accept this as the answer. We just kept talking to her, singing to her, reading to her, and treating her normally.
February 18, 2021 Hailee was put on the “tilt table” for the first time. She opened and closed her eyes, was able to yawn, swallow, move her hands and feet to being tickled, and still moving her head, though still not tracking.
February 19, 2021 I noted that she had been on the brain stimulant Amantadine for the 4th week in a row at 150mg for a week, then 200mg for the 4th week. Hailee was opening her mouth a lot more by then. Still not speaking though. By the 20th, when I would walk in the room, her eyes would go straight towards me! On February 25, she could lift her head and turn towards sounds. She lifts her head and smells, coughs, and swallows on her own. Right around then I also started hearing her voice, yet still not tracking and was not squeezing my hand yet. – though was making some facial expressions.
February 21, 2021 Hailee moving her mouth a LOT and she mouthed the word “mom” to me as I said the word to her repeatedly.
February 23, 2021 I heard her voice today when they put a cap on her tracheotomy. Hailee also tracked a little and squeezed her hand around the washcloth on her own and moved her left shoulder on her own. MY HEART WAS SO HAPPY!!!
February 26, 2021 They got Hailee in a wheelchair and her eyes are open, but just a blank stare. She was still un-sedated, yet not tracking.
February 28, 2021 The EEG shows no stroke or seizure and more brain activity than last time but does show lack of oxygen. The part I was most excited about though, was that the EEG showed a lot of activity. Our family continues to struggle to survive this journey. We were all feeling like we failed Hailee in some way.
On March 1, 2021 Hailee had another EEG that showed evidence of encephalopathy that was worse on the right side, more than the left. Her EEG activity was moderate in amplitude and consisted mostly of delta frequencies. There was more intermixed lower amplitude theta and some alpha over the left side. Amplitude was more supressed on the right. She had a semi rhythmic 4hz pattern wax and wane over the left side anterioly. Anteriorly did not have an evolving quality. On March 3, the therapist gave Hailee a “Rancho Score of 1”.
March 2, 2021 The nurse documented Hailee tracking at two different times.
March 4, 2021 Physical therapy initiated. Hailee opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue on command. She then repeated it 3 more times (4 times total). Small miracles and a good start. We’ll take it.
On March 6, 2021 Hailee said “mom” two times. We decided we wanted to file a Civil Suit against the driver, and perhaps the State of Oregon. I am at the hospital 12 hours per day and have been unable to go back to work as advocating for Hailee has been my full time job. Joe has remained home with the kids and has been unable to work either as he has been with the kids so I can be here at the hospital. I talk to Hailee every day, read to her, play music for her, and help her with her therapies.
March 7, 2021 The hospital said that the previous evening Hailee was using the voice cap and was making so much noise with her voice that it flew across the room. They are trying to get her a new one ASAP. She was trying so hard.
March 11, 2021 I kept opening Hailee’s mouth for her and asked her to stick her tongue out far and she did – about 10xs on command. Also the range of motion therapist also saw her do it and wrote it in her notes. We also found out on this day that there will be no charges against the man that hit Hailee. His insurance found fault and will pay $100,000 but most will get eaten up in fees. The DA will not charge him. He also will continue to have his drivers license – disgusting!!! Saying we were/are pissed is an understatement.
March 16, 2021 I did an interview with KTVL Channel 10. As of this date no local rehab facility will accept Hailee. Hospital putting pressure on us to send her to a nursing home or take her home. We explained our home is not equipped yet for her to come home.
March 17, 2021 Hailee spiked a fever of 102.7 that would initially not respond to coming down. March 18, she increased to 103.5 fever. March 20, 104.8 fever. Turns out she had a double ear infection and her 3rd UTI since being admitted.
March 23, 2021 Met with the DA (District Attorney). This was a waste of time. They said they already planned on not charging him, even if he killed her. Who is this person related to? Why no charges? So many questions left unanswered.
March 26, 2021. It seems the doctors have given up on Hailee. Hailee moved her finger and thumb in front of occupational therapy on command and lots of voice. I requested this be documented.
April 3, 2021 We found out that our current health insurance will only pay for what they consider to be necessary therapy, if Hailee can recover on their timeline, which she can’t because of how serious the injuries are. The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) will no longer pay for her to stay at the hospital where at least she gets some therapy ( that they will be stopping soon). The only thing insurance will pay for at this time is the worst care possible and it is only for 20 days. After 20 days if Hailee hasn’t shown enough improvement they will no longer pay. Then we have to take her home. None of this is an option we will accept. Are going to leave her at the hospital where they have to care for her no matter what but will get the bill now. They won’t kick her out because they can’t but they won’t give her therapy anymore and she needs it. We are desperate for help and we are the only one’s believing in her progress – as slow as it is.
They have given us a choice to take Hailee home, no rehab because she is at a 2 on the Rancho scale, or send her to a skilled nursing facility 300 miles away from home physical therapy 3x’s a week for 20 days. If there is improvement then therapy continues and she can continue to work to get to a 3 and be transferred to a rehab at Randell Emanuel Legacy in Portland, Oregon.
April 27, 2021 When I pinched Hailee’s toes, her legs and knees are moving!! I feel like this is big also with persistence we are getting the tilt table back 2xs a week. She is fighting like hell. It’s interesting and amazing to watch Hailee’s evolvement over time.
April 29, 2021 the hospital put her on the “tilt table” at about 40 degrees. She had a big reaction. Her face started grimacing, her tone kicked in and she looked a little scared and confused. She started voice crying, yet no tears. However, you could definitely see she was experiencing some arousal emotionally.
May 3, 2021 I was up close to Hailee and asked her to make a noise I hummed and then she hummed on command. I am hoping this was something purposeful. I feel like everyday she is making more connections.
May 4, 2021 HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY Hailee!!! We love you Hailee and are so proud of you. We are amazed by your strength everyday. Your laugh and smile and kindness are all the things we love about you and more. We are so lucky to be your parents.
May 8. 2021 They took Hailee completely off of the Clonidine patch today. I was holding my hand at the bottom of Haille’s left foot and asked her to push against my hand SHE DID ON COMMAND IN FRONT OF THE NURSES THIS IS HUGE. NOW TO REDUCE HER KEPPRA.
May 17, 2021 I met a foster lady named Sherri. I loved her a lot. A social worker named Denise from the hospital was in the meeting as well. Sherri was willing to look after Hailee but DD (disability services) are not in place. The hospital did not do their part and turn the whole file over to Disability Services to review, and they have 90 days to review a file. I told Sherri that we cannot be sent home with our daughter, without any services in place for Hailee. Denise, the social worker, said that DD would be done with their review by the middle of July. We still would not have an idea when and if those services would start. Sherri said the hospital cannot discharge you without services in place as this would be a huge liability on the hospital. Denise heard that, her mouth dropped, and she left the meeting frantic. I talked with Sherri alone. She told me that they couldn’t do this to our family. I showed her Hailee’s videos. She said “She needs rehab” and she said she would do what she could to help us. I told the hospital they better re-evaluate the June 1st discharge because “we are not leaving without services in place and ready to go, for Hailee”. We are in the fight of our live’s for our daughter’s care. I have also contacted a lawyer to see what our options are, if any.
April 29 Put hailee on the tilt table today 40 degrees big reaction face started grimacing tone kicked in and she looked scared and confused started voice crying no tears but definitely arousal
May 18, 2021 Hailee’s tracheotomy taken out today. They also reduced her Baclofen from 15 mg to 10 mg twice a day.
May 20, 2021 Hailee said “mom” 5 times in front of the nurse….clearly.
May 22 Hailee wiggling her toes on right foot the doctors said her brain doesn’t recognize. May 23, Hailee was trying to lift her head on her own.
May 24, 2021 A physical therapist came in to see Hailee today. Haille didn’t do much while being put on the spot today. She did wiggle her toes on command for her. The physical therapist didn’t want to see any of the videos I have. I showed her anyways. She said that is synergy (reflexive). I said, “what about her saying mom 5 times in front of the nurse”? The physical therapist said, “Well, I didn’t hear it.” I doubt that physical therapist will come back unless Hailee actually starts walking. I maintain that I know my daughter and I know that what she is doing is purposeful.
May 27, 2021 We had a hospital meeting scheduled for June 3rd. They wanted us to discharge June 8th when we still had no disability services in place. We didn’t even know who Hailee’s Neurologist was. We didn’t know which Pediatric doctor was assigned to her. The hospital was on a one way track for Hailee to go home or to a foster home. I informed the news station after the meeting, about what went on and the hospital’s intention. We do not want to stay at the hospital we want them to facilitate a transfer to get Hailee therapy and rehab. Hailee continues to make progress – even if it is slow progress.
May 30, 2021 Hailee’s period started back today. I feel like that is really good.
June 3, 2021 I did a callback on all the places I gave our hospital to send out referrals for Hailee’s records. Our hospital has not sent any out to the 6 places I put referrals in for the previous week. They are blocking us. Also, Hospital meeting was canceled once they saw our lawyer. They now have to reschedule.
June 5, 2021 Two things happened today. All of a sudden a nurse said, ” why don’t we do tummy time for Hailee?”. They have never done this before. Then the doctor came in and said, “I have been thinking about this since last week. Since she has her trach out, we should introduce some different tastes in her mouth”. I am wondering if they are worried now that they will be sued for neglect of Hailee.
June 10, 2021 I am Fighting the battle of my life for Hailee’s care
June 12, 2021 Nurse called and said Hailee had a seizure last night. She said it lasted about a minute and she is fine now. They are increasing the Keppra again to 750 2x’s a day.
June 30, 2021 The hospital called Children’s Services on me because we haven’t left the hospital. Are you f>ING kidding me. All I want is help for Hailee. I told Children’s Services that Hailee had not had a shower in 168 days from the hospital. I said this in front of the discharge planner and the hospital social worker. They said, “We just don’t have accommodations to provide a shower for Hailee”. I said, “They have showers on the 2nd floor”. The next day Hailee got her 1st shower that had a waterproof wheelchair to accommodate her.
July 4, 2021 On the 3rd (yesterday) and today Hailee’s toes on left foot twitching and today right side of face doing some twitching and her left hand is more open and relaxed and moving her fingers and wrist. I think it is nerves trying to find the pathways. The doctors are doing a 20 minute EEG to rule out seizures. I am wondering if it could it be her brain trying to find those new connections.
July 5, 2021 When I got to the hospital on this morning, Hailee smiled really big with teeth and laughed a little. She had never done that before.
July 7, 2021 Today on tummy time Hailee was trying to lift her head move her hips squeeze her bottom and bend her legs on command.
July 8, 2021 One of the rehab places, Nexus, in Texas, is looking at Hailee’s records.
July 11, 2021 They have been doing an EEG on Hailee to check for seizures. None so far. Last EEG showed moderate slowing. This EEG is mild slowing.
July 12, 2021 Hailee was accepted to Nexus Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. Paperwork sent to Insurance.
July 14, 2021 Received 1st denial letter from Insurance. We are appealing. Hailee sneezed for the 1st time today. She has been yawning for the last 2 days and is moving her eyebrows up in expression (not on command, but doing it). When I am tickling her she is smiling, almost laughing.
July 17, 2021 I have called Jeff Merkley’s office and Ron Wyden. Jeff Merkley’s office flagged Hailee’s case with the Oregon Health Plan to go over. Waiting to connect with Ron Wyden. Also calling Attorney General. Now that Hailee has been accepted the only place I will be going from this hospital is on a plane with Hailee to Nexus to get the Rehab she so desperately needs and has earned. Please continue to keep Hailee and our entire family in your prayers as we face another battle just to get help for Hailee. It should NEVER be like this.
At day 190, Hailee still hasn’t gotten any showers since the one on June 30, 2021. Otherwise they wipe her down with body wipes or washcloths and soapy water.
July 22, 2021 Hailee is like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon it is amazing to watch God’s Glory on her. Today when she was sitting up with feet dangled off the bed she held her own head up for a couple minutes smiled at Melissa and was really looking around and tracking. She is a miracle unfolding before my eyes and I cannot thank God enough!!
We live in a single wide mobile home and we still haven’t had the people who do Hailee’s wheelchair come out to open our doorway so she can get through the front door. I have called the Brain Injury Association, but have not received any help from them. Also Hailee has a wound on her bottom they have been trying to put out for 2 months; at its worst, it was 5mm by 1 by 1. I have a lawyer now because they had been trying to discharge us June 1st then it was June 8th I still at this moment have not sat down with anyone to go over Hailee’s brain scans to tell me exactly what is going on in her brain. Even though things will get better, I still as her mother, feel like I should be well informed.
I have not been trained in CPR or in the event of another seizure or how to physically change Hailee by myself. Hailee has had seizures, kidney stones, 4 UTI infections, 2 double ear infections, collapsed veins and arteries in her left arm, pressure sores on her buttocks, pressure sores on her fingers; atrophy in her neck, misaligned eyes, and optic nerve damage.
Our whole family is beyond traumatized. Our youngest son Noah thought for the longest time Hailee broke her legs. We didn’t tell him that but he just thought that. They want us to put her in our living room. I said it is 84 degrees in our home. They said lots of people don’t have air. I said I don’t care about myself for air, but Hailee has to have it.
Children’s Services protecting the children right? We need help. They stopped giving Hailee physical therapy 3 months ago because they saw no progress. I said you need to help her until she is transferred. They said they can’t because they cannot charge for it it, and it would be fraud. So I work with her numerous times a day myself. I am with her 12 hours a day.
I even asked the hospital about an advocate and they all looked at each other like they didn’t know what i was talking about. I said, “I don’t have a complaint, I need direction.” Finally I got a number given to me, but they said they couldn’t make the call that I would have to initiate it. I said, “Fine!” Now waiting to hear back.
Our biggest struggles over the past several months have been watching Hailee fight for her life and to get her life back and how it has ruined us financially; our children going through the worst event that could ever happen in anyone’s life; and how there has been no justice against the person that hit her with his car; and the long term damage to our entire family.
The relationship with Joe and I has been distant since we basically tag team each other. We are frustrated, sad, angry. Joe does stuff with the kids to keep them occupied (like going to the lake, 4 wheeling, trips, etc.). Me….I am just driven daily to help Hailee get her life back. I get up every day and kiss my other kids and my husband and off to the hospital I go. My full time job now, is making sure that Hailee recovers 100%
My parents live 12 miles away. They have been a great support to us. Our friends have also been supportive. My mental health is drained, and we are tired, scared, excited, and just wish we could rewind time so this never happened.
We are currently waiting on permits to go through to build a 2 bedroom 528 square foot home for us and Hailee. We want to have a room next to her with an open shower. We still need more help more than ever with the financial part of all that.
Team Hailee – We Are Never Giving Up!
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