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BrickStreet to pay McCloy’s bills

The family of surviving Sago miner Randal McCloy Jr. won’t have to worry about his medical bills. The state’s workers’ compensation insurer will pay 100 percent of McCloy’s medical and rehabilitation bills related to the mine disaster, a spokesman for the insurer said.

“No co-payments, no deductibles,” said Andy Wessels, spokesman for BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co. “We’re paying 100 percent — all of the necessary medical treatment related to his injury, whether inpatient or outpatient, as well as any rehabilitation he may need.”

McCloy’s condition was upgraded to fair Monday, according to WVU Hospitals’ Web site.

Some coal mines have independent workers’ comp insurance, but Sago Mine owner Independent Coal Group has its account with BrickStreet, the state’s insurer.

While McCloy is unable to work, his family is also getting the same lost-wage benefit as the families of the 12 miners who died in the disaster, Wessels said. The benefit is two-thirds of his average weekly wage for the preceding 12 months, up to a maximum of $568.78 per week.

The families do not have to pay any state or federal income tax on the benefits.

It is unclear how much McCloy’s medical expenses will total. The average bill at West Virginia University Hospitals was $62,000 in 2005 for trauma patients who needed at least some intensive care, said hospital spokesman Bill Case. That average stay was 10.5 days; McCloy has been in WVU hospitals for almost three weeks.

“This does not include physician charges, which are billed separately and will vary widely, depending on whether or not the patient requires extensive surgery, multiple specialists,” and so forth, Case said.

Funds have been set up for people who wish to donate to McCloy’s family or to the families of all of the Sago miners.

“What [BrickStreet] doesn’t cover is any expenses the family might have staying in Morgantown,” Wessels said. “So there is still a need.” McCloy’s wife, Anna, and other family members have been with him at the hospital. The couple has two young children.

McCloy, 26, was the sole survivor among 13 miners who were trapped after a Jan. 2 explosion at the Upshur County coal mine. He was found and resuscitated by a rescue team after he had spent 42 hours in a mine filled with carbon monoxide.

He suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, shock, hypothermia, dehydration, a collapsed lung and significant muscle breakdown, doctors said.

McCloy’s treatment has included transportation between Buckhannon, Morgantown and Pittsburgh hospitals. He has had CAT scans and MRIs of his brain. He was on a ventilator for several days. He has had teams of physicians dedicated to each of his organ systems. He was in the intensive care unit for more than a week.

His condition was upgraded Monday from serious to fair. According to Dr. Larry Roberts, McCloy shows neurological improvement every day and regained some kidney function over the weekend. He reacts to visitors and doctors who speak with him, but still cannot speak himself.

Doctors have said McCloy may be moved to a rehabilitation center soon, perhaps for a four- to six-week stay. Gov. Joe Manchin told lawmakers Monday that McCloy could start rehabilitation today.

To contact staff writer Tara Tuckwiller, use e-mail or call 348-5189.


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