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When Dianna McCord, the Pennsylvania Elks Home Service nurse for Washington County, first met her client Lily Ayres, Lily was just over a year old and living in a trailer with her father Cliff Ayres, who is a single parent. Since their first meeting, the Ayres have been able to move into a house and have received assistance and funding for the resources they need.
Lily is now 2 years-old and has been diagnosed with Left Hypoplastic Heart Syndrome and Moebius Syndrome. Due to her Hypoplastic heart, she has already undergone two open heart surgeries. One at just two days old, and another at 6 months. She will most likely need a heart transplant in the future.
Moebius Syndrome is a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Due to this condition, Lily's face is paralyzed and she has a feeding tube to ensure she gets the nourishment she needs.
McCord works with over two-hundred families in Washington County and all of the services she provides are free. She helps families get the medical equipment and supplies that they need. She can also help them find funding and assist them with the insurance appeal process, if necessary.
"As an Elks Home Service nurse, my job is to make life easier for the families so that they can concentrate on what is really important and that is Lily's well-being," McCord said.
"Lily is on multiple heart medications including a large amount of diuretics, so her medical status needs to be closely monitored," said McCord. "What is normal for Lily's dad would be a lot for anyone else because she has so much going on in her body requiring constant vigilance."
Due to the amount of diuretics Lily takes, she goes through a lot of diapers. McCord has been able to help Ayres get diapers for Lily which are not covered by their insurance. She was also able to get them money for electric space heaters through a church fund, until Ayres was able to get the propane furnace back up and running.
At the moment, McCord is working to find funding for a landing and stairs to be built onto their new home that are safe for carrying Lily in and out.
"Someone once said that when you have a child with special needs, there is no book," said McCord. "We try to be the family's book to let them know what is out there and there is no charge for our service."