A local pastor is calling for action to help an elderly woman who has been residing in a tent on the front lawn of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church for more than three weeks.
Father Bernie Lindley said Jennifer Reed-Nelson was first brought to the church by law enforcement after she was turned away by a local hotel. Soon after, she lost the ability to walk. Now, church volunteers help her use the restroom at least once per day, provide her with food and water and do her laundry.
Reed-Nelson is essentially a Brookings native. She moved with her family in 1972 and graduated from Brookings-Harbor High School in 1975. She worked summers at a local plywood business to put herself through college, and then got married and had kids here.
According to Lindley, she has a diagnosed mental illness, but that’s not the reason she hasn’t been able to get out of her tent in days.
“She’s not laying here because of a mental health reason...she’s laying here because she can’t walk and she can’t get up on her own,” said Lindley.
Despite attempts to get Reed-Nelson long-term care — made by both Lindley and the Pilot — little progress has been made with the Oregon Department of Human Services or Curry Community Health, partially due to privacy rights, which prevent agencies from disclosing an individual’s health information.
Lindley said members of ODHS have told him they cannot help Jennifer until she turns 65, which is in 10 months.
“I’m not going to make it 10 months,” said Reed-Nelson.
Reed-Nelson does receive some Supplemental Security Income, but it is not enough to afford her stay in a hotel or an assisted living facility.
Lindley said it seems like the responsible agencies are dodging Reed-Nelson’s case. He added church volunteers have done their best to care for her so far, but they can only do so much.
“This needs to be taken care of by professionals,” said Lindley. “She needs to be in an assisted living facility where she can get physical therapy, and where she can get the attention she needs because it wasn’t that long ago that she could still walk, but laying here where she is now, it’s just getting worse.”
As of press time, Reed-Nelson was transported to a hospital in Coos Bay, however, it is still unclear whether she will receive long-term care when she leaves there, such as residency in an assisted living facility.
- For information about Oregon Health Authority’s Behavioral Health Services visit:
- To get information about state programs and community resources for older adults and people with disabilities visit the Aging and Disability Resource Connection: https://www.adrcoforegon.org/consumersite/index.php Or, call the ADRC at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or (1-855-673-2372).
- People with disabilities may be able to qualify for one of two federal disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs are governed by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA). To learn more about these benefits visit the Social Security Web site.
- If it is suspected that an older adult or an adult with disabilities is being harmed, a confidential report can be made by calling Oregon’s Safeline at 1-855-503-SAFE (7233)