Apopka mom fighting to get working hospital bed for paralyzed daughter

APOPKA, Fla. – Alma Fletcher has been fighting for her daughter a decade now, since July 29, 2012.

That was the day her then 15-year-old daughter, Danielle Sampson, was shot in the side of the head by a stray bullet launched from the gun of a burglar on the run.

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It happened while the family was driving through Pine Hills on the way to a shopping mall. Doctors said the wound left Sampson with a traumatic brain injury, unable to speak, walk or reason.

“It’s really rough,” Fletcher told News 6 at her home in Apopka. “I actually do not celebrate birthdays since this happened because I actually celebrate my daughter’s life.”

Fletcher told News 6 she has been in the middle of a benefits battle with Medicaid and Medicare over the past year trying to secure a working electric hospital bed for Danielle.

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The physician’s prescription, signed by Dr. Hufusat Oni, calls for a fully electric bed with bedrails, deemed “medically necessary.”

“Why should she suffer to get the things that she needs?” Fletcher said. “The controls are not working, you can choke easily, the bed needs to be (positioned) at least (at) 45 degrees.”

Longwood attorney Heidi Livingston of the Newlin Law firm represented the family in 2020 to secure 24-hour nursing home care for Danielle via Medicare.

Livingston won that case but she told me she had no idea there was a fight underway to get a fully operating bed from Medicaid insurance.

“She can’t move, she can’t talk, you can’t tell if she is breathing,” Livingston said. “That bed is essential.”

In 2018, attorney Dan Newlin was instrumental in getting the family a handicap accessible home, but the challenges continued.

Now, at 25, Danielle Sampson is sleeping on a bed that does not function properly.

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Despite her history with the Newlin Law firm, Fletcher told News 6 she was reluctant to ask for more help, so News 6 did it for her.

We met Newlin at the Atlantic Aviation International Airport last Monday on July 26.

Newlin had just flown in from UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where he was honored for contributing funds to pay for emergency pediatric surgery for six children in Ukraine.

When News 6 presented Danielle Sampson’s situation, Newlin immediately said, “We need to get her the best.”

“It’s one of those stories that’s heartbreaking,” Newlin said. “Thank you so much for reaching out and just letting us know that Danielle was in this need.”

News 6 contacted Oni’s clinical team to make sure the proper hospital bed is ordered.

The medical center’s outreach manager replied that the team would discuss what bed should be used.

“Thank you for your generosity and willingness to help this patient,” spokesperson Esmeralda Batiz wrote in part.

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When told of Newlin’s generosity, Fletcher put her face into her hands, looked up, smiled and said, “Oh my goodness, thank you. God, thank you.”

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