Local News

Smithfield dad battles WakeMed over son's guardianship

Posted June 26, 2012

— A Raleigh hospital has asked a Wake County judge to appoint a guardian for a Johnston County teenager receiving care for a severe brain injury after his medical insurance lapsed.

The teen's father, however, says, he is fighting for the right to take care of his son.

Fred Lempe, of Smithfield, says his 18-year-old son, Freddie, was months away from graduating from Smithfield-Selma High School in March 2011 when he was injured in a car crash.

His father's Medicaid initially paid the younger Lempe's bills, but he was dropped in December when he turned 18.

Fred Lempe says he was told that he would need to reapply. He says he's been trying to secure coverage again.

Smithfield dad battles WakeMed over son's guardianship Smithfield dad battles WakeMed over son's guardianship

"We hope that we can get everything resolved and do the right thing for Freddie," Fred Lampe said.

In the meantime, however, WakeMed wants the court to appoint a legal guardian for Freddie.

Fred Lempe's attorney, Marcia Stewart, says that scares her client, because the guardian would be legally authorized to make all medical decisions for Freddie.

Stewart says her client has complied with everything that has been asked of him to get the Medicaid benefits reinstated.

"I think it is a drastic measure. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," Stewart said. "It's absolutely heartbreaking and absolutely shameful, if you had any idea what this man has done for his son day and night for 14 months."

WakeMed released a statement Tuesday, saying that the move "has nothing to do with the care that Freddie has received and will continue to receive regardless of the judge's decision."

"We are simply taking steps to secure financial resources for Freddie through Medicaid, which should be available to him for his care," the hospital said.

The Lempe family estimates that medical bills have approached $4 million.

"I believe I've got Freddie's best interests at hand way more than WakeMed does," Fred Lempe said.

The hearing was continued Tuesday, so for now, Lempe remains the legal guardian for his son.

He hopes he will be able to secure Medicaid benefits before the next hearing, which is scheduled for July 25.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • FromClayton Jun 29, 2012

    I dont know what is right, wrong or fair as far as the money situation in this case. All I know is if it were my son in that hospital bed, I would fight until we both took our last breaths to do anything I could to help him get better. Any parent who doesnt feel the same way shouldnt be a parent. And you don't stop being a dad because your child turns 18. Can you imagine what that famiy is going through? Stop and think about that for a minute.

  • corncop Jun 28, 2012

    My insurance is with BCBS NC federal plan. Considering the problems I have had with them paying legitimate claims, I doubt seriously they would be forking out $2 million (they usually pay around 1/2) for my care at Wake Mwd for 14 months.

  • aydensmom1106 Jun 28, 2012

    Sherlock, you must not know much about how this works. IF WakeMed was to get legal guardianship over Freddie, they wouldn't have control over the financial part of it, but also they could make medical decisions for Freddie which is something they shouldn't be able to do. I have read the posts from Freddie's father and from what he says, WakeMed's physicians gave up on his son a long time ago and have not been very agressive at wanting to help his son be more than just a "vegetable". He is now turning his head, moving arms on command, etc. and WakeMed will not agree to help Freddie get further than that. So what happens if WakeMed does get guardianship? Will they give up on him completely? and maybe "pull the plug" as he is still on a ventilator?

  • freedomrings Jun 28, 2012

    Has anyone seen the father's facebook petition site? He's claiming HE DID file the paperwork and it was denied. He's also claiming most doctors at the hospital are denying treatment that showed great benefit for his son in the past.

  • shortcake53 Jun 27, 2012

    regansdad, you took words right off of my comp. I was about to type exactly the same thing you did, nice to know someone else sees what I do.

  • Sherlock Jun 27, 2012

    If I where the dad I would let the hospital take the guardian, then THEY would be responsible att hat point for ALL his bills and then if the hospital tried to put him out or anything else I would take ethe hospital to court and sue on his behalf. He is 18 and an adult it the courts eyes. However the dad needs to sue the insurance company because the child was younger than 18 when the accident happen, and he was covered by the policy.. really good law suite here.

  • Dazd N Confused Jun 27, 2012

    Hospitals have to have a legal guardian appointed for an adult that is not able to make decisions for themselves. Not saying that he waited for until the last minute to make a decision, but he is not the legal guardian of his child when he turned 18 years old and is not married. Hospitals have to have someone able to make legal decisions for the person's care. Right now, because the state has not appointed one, and when he was an adult he didn't appoint one (because he couldn't when he turned 18); the state needs to provide one. Even if it IS his father. It just needs to be legal, to cover the hosptial.

  • regansdad2 Jun 27, 2012

    Dazd N Confused
    How do you know that Big Freddie ( Freddie's dad) has not tried to get medicaid for his 18 yo son - did you ask him?
    You make comments about being a reasonable adult and sitting back waiting until he is forced to do something and about hiring an attorney. Do you know what kind of hardships this family has been going through for over a year? You say he had no problem getting an attorney - again, did you ask him? I would love to here from someone that has been in exactly the same situation and what they did. Dazd N Confused would you hire an attorney to keep guardianship of your child if someone tried to take that right away - Just what would you do? Please people - if you don't know all the facts, just don't guess at what you think they might be. Again - try to look at things from the other side and think - What would I do if that was my child? What would I do if I lost my job because I was sitting at my child's bed side praying that a miracle would happen?

  • Dazd N Confused Jun 27, 2012

    Where does the story state that WakeMed wants to BE the guardian of this person? It said that WakeMed is asking the judge to appoint one. Those are WAY two different things. I'm wondering why the father hasn't reapplied for his son's Medicaid back in December when he lost it... 6 months ago. I guess WakeMed is asking for a reasonable adult to make the decisions, rather than someone that sits back and doesn't make any decisions until forced to. He had no problem getting an attorney to fight for guardianship of his son now, why didn't he do that back in December? WakeMed needs to have someone to be available to make decisions for this person, and right now they don't have anyone LEGALLY able to do so. I think it's good that WakeMed is doing everything legally to provide care for the person.

  • driverkid3 Jun 27, 2012

    Tricky Dick::And why should taxpayers be forced to pay for this?

    Do you say the same thing about baby factories, or about illegals with the anchor babies? I would much rather see money go to this young man than I had the two that I mentioned. And to take the father out of the picture isjust not right. I didn't see anything in the story about WHY they were doing this. I don't understand why there is even any questions about this. The kid needs care and he is getting it. Wake Med and the other hospitals treat the illegals and others without collecting a cent, why not this kid? Another reason this state is on the skids, it is just disgusting and pathetic.