Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Make Hard Time Easier

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Make Hard Time Easier

Article excerpt

KINGSLAND -- Sandy Ziervogel of Kingsland was worried she'd

lose her health insurance and possibly her job after learning in

August her daughter had an inoperable brain tumor.

Doctors told Ziervogel she'd have to take her daughter, Jami

Hogan, 13, to hospitals in Jacksonville and Gainesville, Fla.,

for testing, radiation and chemotherapy -- sometimes for weeks

at a time.

Ziervogel was worried she couldn't afford to take the time off

from her maintenance job at the Camden County Recreation Center.

That was until her co-workers and other county employees

sacrificed 200 hours of vacation time to help her out.

"All these people threw these hours to her," said Tom Hurley, a

supervisor at the center. "We told her the job was the last

thing she needed to worry about."

Ziervogel can now take as much time off as she needs. And she

doesn't have to worry about losing her health insurance, for

which she is required to work at least 32 hours a week to remain

eligible.

"I was worried because I was single and had to keep my

insurance," Ziervogel said. "You don't think about this until it

happens to you. It's overwhelming."

Connie Smith, switchboard operator at the Camden County

Courthouse, donated 80 hours of vacation time.

"I felt it was the right thing to do," Smith said. "I would

have done this for anybody. I'll give more hours if I have any

to give."

Jami first began feeling ill and suffering blackouts in June.

Her mother scheduled a doctor's appointment, but didn't know the

severity of the situation until she witnessed a seizure. She

insisted doctors run tests immediately. While Jami was at

Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center in Brunswick, she

suffered another seizure, Ziervogel said.

After several trips to hospitals in Jacksonville, the illness

was diagnosed as a tumor, said Michael Joyce, a pediatric

oncologist at Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville. …

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