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  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Budget cuts threaten to greatly affect the way Anthony Debois is cared for. Diagnosed with Muscular Distrophy at the age of eight, his care has been primarily received in home through state funding.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Budget cuts threaten to greatly affect the way Anthony Debois is cared for. Diagnosed with Muscular Distrophy at the age of eight, his care has been primarily received in home through state funding.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Budget cuts threaten to greatly affect the way Anthony Debois is cared for. Diagnosed with Muscular Distrophy at the age of eight, his care has been primarily received in home through state funding.
Thursday, March 31, 2011

House set to vote on budget

NASHUA – All his life, Tony Dubois drew upon services designed to help him live independently.

Confined to a wheelchair, now unable to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator, Dubois still went to blues concerts and reggae festivals, graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with honors and prepared for a career as a medical recruiter

Despite suffering from muscular dystrophy and diabetes and other related ailments, Dubois function as independently as possible, living with his family, hanging with his friends, earning a living and being part of the community.

Up to this year, services he’s received from state agencies and programs have helped to do that, he said.

But a cost savings move by the state legislature now seems poised to throw all that away.

A swath of proposed budget cuts would eliminate services that Dubois, 35, says he needs to remain independent and could force him not only out of the community and work force, but into a nursing home.

“It’s going to make it hard for me to go back to work,” Dubois said.

Since he nearly died in 2003, Dubois has been living with a ventilator. A small one rests on the back of his wheelchair. He uses larger tanks in his home. He can barely move his hands and a foot.

Dubois needs near 24-hour care because his breathing tube must be suctioned as frequently as four times an hour.

“If I don’t have suctioning, it could block my airways, and I could die,” he said.

Suctioning can only be done by a family member, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. Proposed budget cuts would reduce the hours Dubois receives nursing services, meaning he wouldn’t have the assistance he needs to work and live as independently as he would with the aid.

Disabled people and their families and organizations that assist them have been reeling from cuts proposed by the governor and the N.H. House Finance Committee.

The proposed cuts would dismantle programs and reduce important services to physically disabled, autistic and developmentally disabled people, who are among the most vulnerable population. Rallies protesting the cuts have been held in Concord over the past several weeks. One is scheduled for today, which Dubois said he hopes to attend.

“They’re going after easy targets,” Dubois’ father, Joseph Dubois, said about the efforts of lawmakers to balance the budget partly through reducing services to disabled people.

“They’re looking at a group of people who can’t defend themselves,” he said.

Tony Dubois lives in a home his father renovated for him. A garage was converted to Dubois’ living quarters, complete with a commercial-size elevator, big enough to accommodate his large wheelchair.

Eight of Dubois’ physicians – he has nearly 50 doctor appointments in a year – have written letters on his behalf stressing the importance of his continuing to receive care.

The Duboises admit the care Tony receives is expensive.

For example, the cost of him receiving care at home exceeds the $16,061 per month cost of him living in a nursing home.

However, the aim of the services – and the federal Americans with Disabilities act, for that matter – is focused on helping individuals to live productive lives, not to shelve them away in care homes, Tony Dubois said.

Not only would Dubois lose his independence if he was forced into a nursing home, but the closest care facility that could accommodate his need to be constantly on a ventilator is in Exeter.

“I would be so far away from my family and friends. I wouldn’t have the friends I do have here. I’d hardly see my family,” he said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.