By: Julia Deng
MIDLAND - A Midland Memorial Hospital patient battling a life-threatening facial tumor was unable to get the treatment he needed for five years.
Jerry Roberts, 56, is allocated $700 a month for medical care through Medicaid and has no other form of health insurance.
"The doctors at Midland Memorial are doing so much for him, but everybody else turned us away," said Lon Ashley, his best friend and caretaker.
Roberts was admitted to the hospital Friday, following a suicide attempt.
The cancerous growth on his face began about five years ago as a pimple-like bump inside his nose.
It now covers more than half his face and extends into his mouth and nasal cavities.
Ashley said "dozens of other hospitals and surgeons" they had contacted prior to Midland Memorial "said 'no' because Medicaid doesn't pay them enough."
Their attempts at scheduling appointments through the Medicaid system were all unsuccessful, according to Ashley.
"They sent a list of doctors," he explained. "Well, we called all of them."
At least half a dozen of those physicians reportedly told Roberts they "were not accepting new patients."
He told NewsWest 9 the Medicaid system had also referred him to a retired doctor.
"That doctor had been retired for a full year," said Ashley. "We just don't get our hopes up about anything anymore."
Specialists at Midland Memorial offered to treat Roberts free of charge, but are unable to perform the extensive surgeries he needs to remove the tumor and reconstruct his face.
"We can't find anybody in Texas who will do it with the Medicaid coverage he has," Ashley told NewsWest 9 in a previous interview. "There's a small, religious [treatment center] in Arizona that may be able to do it [under Roberts's insurance plan] but right now, we're just waiting. We can't do anything else."
NewsWest 9 contacted the physician who treated Roberts before he was admitted to Midland Memorial, in addition to specialists who reportedly "turned him away."
None were available for comment.
Their names have not been released by NewsWest 9.
An official donation fund was set up for Jerry Roberts through Chase bank.
Questions about the account information below can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.