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'Lack of US health cover may have killed my girl'

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Tragedy: Katrina Hennigan (31) may not have sought specialist help because she had no US health insurance

Tragedy: Katrina Hennigan (31) may not have sought specialist help because she had no US health insurance

Tragedy: Katrina Hennigan (31) may not have sought specialist help because she had no US health insurance

An Irish mother grieving her daughter's death in the US has urged young Irish people living in America to ensure they have health insurance.

Bridget Glynn said many young Irish people do not realise they can get help and advice on a range of matters, including health insurance, at Irish pastoral centres in the US.

Her daughter Katrina Hennigan (31), who lived in Ireland until she was 11, died at her apartment in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, last month.

Katrina became ill last April and was treated in an intensive care unit for several days. After her spell in hospital, she was advised to seek follow-up visits to medical specialists.

Her mother said she contacted Katrina several times and insisted she make specialist appointments, but unfortunately she did not have health insurance.

She had also spoken to her daughter about returning to Ireland to get medical care.

Katrina was found dead in her apartment on November 28.

Bridget said her daughter had excellent care in hospital and she was not finding fault with the US health system.

Emigrants

However, her mother believes her lack of health insurance may have been a factor in her not seeking medical appointments in a timely manner.

"Katrina needed to get follow-up care. The Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston does wonderful work for Irish emigrants, including advice about health coverage. Katrina wasn't aware of that," she said.

The autopsy results on the cause of Katrina's death will not be available for up to three months.

Katrina spent her childhood in Blackrock, Cork City, until her mother Bridget and father Thomas Hennigan emigrated to the US when she was 11.

Her body was brought to Ireland to be waked in Bridget's native Mullaghgloss, Renvyle, Co Galway, and she was buried in Tooreena cemetery.

Bridget lived for 20 years in the US before moving back to Ireland last May.

She wrote about Katrina and the importance to increase awareness about health insurance for young Irish people in the US in an article on the irishcentral.com website.

"Katrina worked so hard and was loved by so many people.

"She was ill in April 2014 and she ended up in ICU in Rhode Island for five or six days.

"She had instructions to follow up with endocrinology, GI and, I believe, cardiology.

"I spoke with her and Skyped her many times and insisted she call the recommended specialists to make an appointment.

"Unfortunately, the first question she was asked was 'What insurance do you have?' Katrina worked in the hospitality industry and did not have any health insurance.

"I now know that the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston helps emigrants with various problems, including not having health coverage. Katrina didn't know that.

"I would like to let other emigrants know this and if people wish, they can make a donation in her name to The Irish Pastoral Centre, 15 Rita Road, Dorchester, MA 02124.

"We miss her so much we want to do something good in her name," she said.

Devastated

"I knew there had to be some severe underlying problem that had caused her to be in ICU for such a long period of time. Of course, she was 31 and invincible and said I was being dramatic," Katrina's mother added.

The family are awaiting the autopsy results, but she knows that the result will not mend the hearts that were broken by her death.

"We are totally devastated and finding it so hard to think of life without her beautiful smile and wicked sense of humour," Bridget said.

"I wish I could do something in her name to help others. She was such a giving person."

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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