Local News

December 2, 2013

‘Her and her kids on their own’

Single mom faces health care nightmare, co-workers seek help

Last Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, Serena McDermott blacked out, her friends and co-workers said.

When she woke up in the Erlanger Health System hospital in Chattanooga late the same day, after a stint at Hamilton Medical Center, she was told by doctors she had complications with her aorta and had bleeding in her brain from two aneurysms, several people said.

Now, McDermott — a single mother of four children — is facing a costly health care nightmare. Without any insurance and currently no income, McDermott is struggling to find care she can afford and is mostly bedridden at home waiting to see if she can access Medicare or Medicaid to get vital treatment.

That’s why staff members at several local restaurants are rallying this week around McDermott, a lunchtime server at the LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant off Walnut Avenue, by seeking donations from the community.

“You don’t work day in and day out with people and not have a connection with them,” Amy LaFond, manager of the local LongHorn, said.

On top of taking donations from the community, LaFond has used connections with other local restaurant managers to raffle several gift cards to the local eateries, including Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Lisa’s Cafe sandwich shop, CiCi’s Pizza and more. Each raffle ticket costs $1; most gift cards are between $20 to $25 in value, LaFond said, adding that the drawing for each card is set for Sunday afternoon with a cutoff to get tickets set for Saturday.

“They can come in here to the restaurant and get the raffle tickets from the employees who will be selling them,” she said.

The restaurant is at 1315 W. Walnut Ave. Anyone wanting to donate more than just the price of a raffle ticket can contact server Kellie Washington, who is helping oversee larger donations, by calling the restaurant’s main number at (706) 281-1568.

“We feel compelled to do something,” Washington said.

LongHorn employees have already raised about $520 with the corporate office matching another $500, LaFond said.

“We’re just trying to raise some money for her and her kids,” LaFond said. “Anyone can spare a dollar to help.”

Rachael King, a LongHorn server and friend of McDermott, said the single mother “really deserves” the help.

“She’s very, very intelligent,” King said. “She’s very smart. She does Cryptoquips in the paper. We make fun of her because no one here can do them but her. She’s very witty. Very friendly, but very hard-working. She comes into work for her kids.”

McDermott has one adult son who is currently helping support the family, 12-year-old twins and a 3-year old daughter, several servers said.

“Her kids are literally all that she has,” King said. “She has struggled enough when she was able to work. But now, things are going to be extremely difficult. It is just her and her kids on their own.”

LaFond, who began as manager of LongHorn last year, said several regulars to the steakhouse look forward to being served by McDermott, who has worked at the restaurant for almost 11 years.

“She’s known,” LaFond said. “People know who she is.”

Which makes her absence hard on the LongHorn “family,” she added.

“This is just unexpected,” Washington said. “No one had any idea that she would wake up and have this happen to her one day. Now her kids are left caring for their mother instead of the other way around. Right here at Christmastime.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Dalton State turtle 4.jpg In the mood for love: Encouraging breeding, saving species

    For one Dalton State College couple, a cool misty shower is more effective than Barry White and candles at turning thoughts to love. And keeping this couple feeling amorous could mean survival of the species.

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Beaulieu expects 2,000 employees to be affected by week-long shutdown

    About 2,000 employees of Beaulieu of America in Georgia and Alabama will be affected by the company’s plans to conduct an inventory of its buildings and facilities next week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Moral monday 3 mlh.jpg Four ‘jailed for justice’ tell their stories

    Arturo Martinez was just 8 when his family came to the United States from Mexico, and though he is one of more than 500,000 young undocumented immigrants granted deferred removal by President Barack Obama, Martinez said his dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach because of Georgia policies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tanner Blackton: Diners, servers must show understanding

    Try to imagine this: You’ve been on your feet for hours, hoisting heavy plates, buzzing from table to table, taking orders, running food, refilling drinks. All the while, you have a smile plastered on your face and a go-to attitude, even when people blame you for things that are out of your control, berate you for accidentally mixing up an order, or loudly complain about being seated underneath an air conditioning vent.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014