Karla Taylor-Bauman needed a little extra cash. So she figured she’d tap a clause in her life insurance that allows an early withdrawal if the policy-holder has certain serious illnesses.
One problem: The insurance company told her, “You’re too healthy.”
Given what she’s gone through over the past year, she’s totally OK with that.
“I got denied because I am healthier than I ever was before,” says Taylor-Bauman, 50.
That would have seemed an unlikely scenario last spring, when the Lake Villa resident was described by her doctor as being “as close to brain-dead as you get without being brain-dead.”
That was after contracting the coronavirus, which left her so sick she spent 54 days in hospitals, 21 days of that on a ventilator in an induced coma in a last-ditch effort to help her recover.
“I truly am a miracle, walking and talking,” says Taylor-Bauman, her words punctuated by a nervous giggle.
After her prolonged recovery, Taylor-Bauman, a financial analyst, hasn’t been able to go back to work yet. She’s still doing physical therapy three times a week to improve the condition of her heart and lungs.
In October, the Chicago Sun-Times reported: “She got her coronavirus miracle, surviving three weeks in a coma. Then came the hard part.”
That was facing the prospect of foreclosure and losing her home because of the dire financial straits she and her husband Jevon Bauman were left in thanks to her medical bills, mostly from the hospital, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, despite having health insurance.
The medical bills she was facing came to around $240,000.
After a Sun-Times reporter asked the hospital why, given that she was insured, her bill was so high, Taylor-Bauman got a call from Vista, saying it was a mistake, that her insurance had, in fact, covered her tab. She owed nothing.
Though that, too, seemed miraculous, the Baumans still faced the foreclosure of their Lake Villa home after falling behind on their mortgage.
What happened next maybe wasn’t as much another miracle as it was an act of kindness and generosity on the part of some business leaders. They were in the process of starting a nonprofit lender to help Illinois residents living “at the margins” and read about the Baumans in the Sun-Times.
“We got connected to Karla’s story and obviously had a deep heart for what she had been through last year,” says Paul Hawkinson, an associate professor of finance and strategy at North Park University who’s one of the founding members of Transform Capital. “We realized that this story was at the heart of who we wanted to serve.”
Hawkinson and his group negotiated with the Baumans’ lender and helped set them up with a new mortgage with payments they can afford.
“At this point, they are fully the owners of their home, with a new, private mortgage at a market rate,” Hawkinson says. “And the foreclosure risk is gone.”
Taylor-Bauman had spent 10 months after getting out of the hospital living in the rectory of the North Chicago church where her father is the pastor. That was because she required frequent care that her husband couldn’t provide because he needed to keep working.
Finally, last month, she was able to move back home — to the home she and her husband no longer fear they’ll lose.
Nothing’s perfect. After she got sick, they’d had to put their plans on hold to finish remodeling the kitchen, which still has no cabinets and, for now, just a bare, plywood floor. But they figure they’ll deal with that when they can and be happy for the two — or three — miracles they’ve already been given.
“I’m not even going to worry about the kitchen because the toughest part is already done,” Taylor-Bauman says. “Everything else is going to fall into place in its own time.
“The hardest part was getting me to have a house to come home to. For me, just being home is a relief.”