(CNN) – Things go from bad to worse for one Ohio woman. Kimberly Thompson was hospitalized after a major health scare, and after being bed-ridden for an extended period of time, she lost her welfare.
Thompson spent two and a half months in the hospital last summer after an infection ravaged her body. Nearly half of that time she was in a coma.
Thompson says, “My organs started failing so they had to put me in a medically induced coma.”
She has lasting damage to her kidneys and her liver, her spleen was removed, and most of her toes were amputated.
Adding insult to injury, while she was comatose, the county kicked her off government assistance.
Thompson says, “Well I was in a coma and I didn’t report in, I was supposed to report in once a week. So since I didn’t, they just cut it off and sanctioned me.”
While hospitalized, her 15-year-old daughter, Alexis, had to move in with her father. When Thompson was released, she had no money and nowhere to go.
Legal Aid Attorney Jamie Shier says, “She’s been living on her ex-husband’s couch and staying from place to place, and currently her daughter is not able to stay with her because she lacks stable housing.”
County agencies got tough a couple of years ago when the federal government said it would impose fines for law work participation rates.
The rate in Ohio jumped from 22 percent in 2010 to more than 58 percent this year. Some of that is increasing the number of participants with work assignments. Some, though, is cutting the number of participants, reducing the caseloads.
Thompson says she wants to work, and understands the rules, but she says when they cut her off, it made her situation much worse. “Well I understand welfare not giving me money, because I don’t have Alexis. But there should be something, help for people who are sick. And there isn’t anything. It doesn’t help people get better.”
The Legal Aid Society was able to get Thompson’s food assistance back, but she’s still having trouble finding a place to live.