Mom of sick baby asks federal workers to donate their leave

WASHINGTON – An employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking federal employees to donate their vacation leave so she can stay with her sick baby in the hospital.

Kelly Anderson says she is out of sick time, vacation time and leave allowed under the Federal Medical Leave Act.

Kelly and her husband, Matt, welcomed their second child, Stone, on Sept. 11, 2012, but knew within a few weeks that his vomiting wasn’t normal. After taking him to a series of doctors, Stone was diagnosed with intestinal malrotation.

“His major issue was that his intestines were in backwards and we thought that was the only problem,” Matt Anderson says.

“We did a surgery and some other things kind of popped up that we weren’t expecting that led to him being on a feeding tube.”

Stone weighs less now at 8 months old than he did at 2 months, Anderson says.

Doctors in Roanoke, Va., have not found the Andersons an answer to why Stone can’t gain weight. His parents will likely take him back to a children’s hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., where specialists have a floor dedicated to children with similar medical issues.

“I think we’re going to make the decision to go back up there and do an inpatient stay, which could be a couple of days from what they told us. It could be weeks to even months that they would observe him,” he says.

But Anderson recently just started a new job and his wife is out of allowed leave time from work.

Monday Kelly Anderson posted a plea on her son’s Facebook Page, Prayers for Baby Stone, asking her federal colleagues to donate their leave so she can keep her job and stay with her son in the hospital.

“I hate, hate, hate to ask for anything but if you or someone you know would be willing to donate and help us out, I would be forever grateful. I did not expect to be out this week and the situation is pretty scary for my family because I must have a job. My FMLA won’t reset until September and they do not HAVE to approve leave without pay not under FMLA,” Kelly Anderson posted to her followers on Facebook on May 6.

Matt Anderson says they were nervous about Kelly’s employment at the VA because of the amount of time she has taken off.

“We hate to ever ask for anything, but this one time we kind of took advantage of the success of the page to see if we could get a little bit of help with just getting time. That’s what we need, we don’t really so much need anything other than more time,” he says.

The VA has different requirements than the Office of Personnel Management requires of government employees who want to donate their annual leave.

A VA employee who wants to donate annual time can specify how many hours or days he wants to give and fill out a form through his human resources management officer, according to Veterans Affairs spokesperson Josephine Schuda.

Federal employees working at other agencies who want to donate their annual leave to Anderson do not have to use a specific form, but they have to get in touch with Anderson’s VA point of contact and arrange a transfer. Transfer applications are not automatically accepted, Schuda says.

So far, response to the plea on Facebook has been positive.

“We’ve been really overwhelmed by how many giving and caring people there are. It has just been amazing,” Matt Anderson says.

He did not want to specify how many hours have been donated.

The Facebook page set up to update family and friends on Stone’s medical status now has more than 5,900 followers. Anderson says the most important part of keeping it updated is to use its unexpected reach to help others.

“It has been a real difficult process just navigating the medical thing and the state and federal programs and things that are available — it’s a little bit overwhelming,” Matt Anderson days.

“We’ve had some guidance there and we’d love to share our knowledge with others. If we can help anybody, that’s what we want to do.”

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