On February 19, 2016, I accompanied Ronald J. Bercume to the Court of Common Pleas in Berks County, Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Section. Not only did I accompany him as his girlfriend to provide moral support, but also as his rare disease advocate. The matter at hand alleged Mr. Bercume disobeyed an Order of Court for support.
The ORDER OF COURT clearly states that Mr. Bercume would be afforded the opportunity to disclose income, other financial information, as well as any relevant personal information at the hearing so that the Court may adequately determine whether or not he has the ability to pay. It also states he would be able to convey to the Court any unusual expenses that may affect his ability to pay in any way.
Prior to February 19, 2016, Mr. Bercume provided the court with all requested documentation, including a signed HIPPA release, sent via certified mail, to include his medical records during the court proceedings. A Physician’s Verification Form was also submitted detailing his inability to work due to ongoing medical conditions. The Court contends they never received the HIPPA release. Additionally, when Mr. Bercume offered into evidence a certified mail receipt, date stamped with a tracking number was told by the judge anyone can go to the post office and obtain one of those. Mr. Bercume also requested at that time to sign a HIPPA release in the presence of the court, as that very opportunity was afforded to a gentlemen in the case prior to his. However, Mr. Bercume was denied that courtesy. In the brief amount of time Mr. Bercume was allowed to speak, he was continuously shutdown, interrupted, and in my eyes, disrespected and treated as if he was just another stereotypical deadbeat dad, which could not be anything farther from the truth. Up until May of 2015, when medical conditions disabled Mr. Bercume, affecting his ability to work, Mr. Bercume provided generously for all his children and has supporting documentation to prove so. His only wish being to receive the medical care he desperately needs to heal and to continue providing and being the loving father he has always been.
On February 19, 2016, a great injustice occurred. A man diagnosed with a rare disease known as Hidradenitis Suppurativa and other health issues was found in contempt of court, handcuffed and led to the holding area of the Reading Courthouse and was sentenced to 90 days in the Berks County Prison.
While being patted down, Mr. Bercume notified the guards of the pain they were inflicting upon him due to open lesions on his body that are a direct result of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Not only was Mr. Bercume subjected to physical pain, he sustained mental anguish as well, causing increased anxiety and depression, two of many concurrent conditions associated with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
In order to secure Mr. Bercume’s release, a purge amount against child support arrears was set at $2,500.00. $3,000.00 was paid by myself, and in essence “stolen”, as Mr. Bercume has complied and continues to provide all documentation requested by the court, as well as following through with his continued care under the direction of his PCP and several specialists.
It is a disgrace when the diseased and those dealing with medical issues have to battle not only with their failing health, but also a broken system that continuously questions the validity of their conditions and work abilities. As a Hidradenitis Suppurativa patient and advocate, I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones who still has the ability to work and provide for myself. Witnessing the injustice I did on this day not only has me fearful for my future but also for all of those who struggle with disabilities.
Respectfully, we need to address and fix this broken system. Many people in this country seek out cures, proper health care, financial assistance, and probably most of all a little compassion.Tags: Mental Health Patient Blogs Patient Stories