On Saturday, 6/18, the family of Marie Funk as well as community members and extended family from Put People First! PA gathered to pay her tribute and call attention to the negligence in her care perpetrated at the end of her life by Senior LIFE, a local healthcare provider for low-income seniors.


Senior LIFE  repeatedly denied and/or delayed Marie’s care, despite being paid by both Medicaid and Medicare to treat her. Marie Funk’s daughter, Danelle Morrow, lead the vigil and spoke out about the mistreatment Marie and her family received at the hands of Senior LIFE. Members of PPF-PA, from Pittsburgh, York, and Philadelphia, joined Marie’s family and other local residents.

Read here and here for more about Marie’s story.


The vigil focused on bringing release and healing to Marie’s family and community and heat to Senior Life. “Over 200 families in Cambria County have loved ones under Senior LIFE’s care. The purpose of our action is to 1) raise awareness so that no one else has to go through this 2) get Senior LIFE to apologize and 3) get them to change the way they provide care,” remarked Danelle. 

Gathered outside Senior LIFE headquarters at 4th and Broad Street, the peaceful crowd held signs, gave testimonials, sang, lit candles and released paper lanterns into the sky in memory of Marie and others harmed by a healthcare system that puts profit over people. Channel 6, WJAC as well as the Tribune Democrat were there to cover the story.

“She was my grandmother too. She loved everyone,” remarked Corey Butler, a friend of the family. “We’re fighting because my mom taught me my values and my morals. She wouldn’t have wanted this to happen to anyone else. If you’re out there suffering, we want you to know that we’ll fight for you too,” committed Danelle.

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Danelle and Family


Contact: Danelle Morrow (814) 254-6647

Senior Strife: Family and supporters to hold vigil Saturday to honor Marie Funk, call for accountability from local senior care provider


What: Vigil for community healing and accountability

Who: Family of late local resident Marie Funk and members of Put People First! PA

When: Saturday June 18th, 6:30 pm

Where: Senior LIFE, 401 Broad St., Johnstown

        On Saturday, community members and supporters from Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) will hold a vigil in Johnstown to honor the late Marie Funk and to call to account Senior LIFE (a local healthcare provider for low-income seniors) for repeatedly denying or delaying her care, despite being paid by both Medicaid and Medicare to treat her. Marie Funk’s daughter, Danelle Morrow, will lead the vigil and speak out about the mistreatment Marie and her family received at the hands of Senior LIFE. Members of PPF-PA, a statewide organization working to make healthcare a human right in Pennsylvania, will come to Johnstown from Pittsburgh, York, and Philadelphia, to join Marie’s family and other local residents.


“Over 200 families in Cambria County have loved ones under Senior Life’s care. They need to know that they are not alone if they are going through the same thing my family went through. I want to help people speak out if they feel they are being mistreated, before it’s too late,” remarked Marie’s daughter Danelle.


At the vigil, paper lanterns will be released into the sky, Danelle and others will speak, and everyone will hold candles.


        In the 8 months in which Marie Funk was in Senior LIFE’s program, her medical team provided wholly inadequate care, leading to unnecessary suffering for her and her family. Though she was in severe pain, Senior LIFE’s doctor insisted she did not need medication. After pain medication was prescribed by other doctors when Marie was hospitalized, Senior LIFE reduced her dosage upon returning home. Senior LIFE also delayed diagnostic testing for months before Marie was finally diagnosed with cancer. It was not until weeks after her initial diagnosis that a doctor at another facility informed her that she had stage-four terminal lung cancer.

        In addition to the lack of care, Senior LIFE’s doctor and staff treated Marie disrespectfully, telling her that the pain she was experiencing was only in her head. As Marie’s health deteriorated, her family repeatedly requested that Senior LIFE provide more in-home personal care but they refused to give Marie the daily assistance that she needed, insisting that she was healthy enough to live independently at home. In the end, Marie’s daughter had her admitted into hospice care, where she died after only three days.

        Danelle explains, “At first, I wanted to trust the doctors. But as time passed and more things were overlooked and avoided, despite several requests for tests and other treatments, it became clear that the issue was that Senior LIFE did not want to pay for these additional services. They wanted to do everything in house to make more profit.”

        Sadly, Marie’s family could not afford a funeral for her. Saturday’s vigil will provide a chance for her family and friends to say goodbye. But more than that, it will serve as a protest of the mistreatment and suffering that Marie endured in the final months of her life. Marie’s family and supporters want to 1) raise awareness for other families enrolled in Senior LIFE, and 2) get Senior LIFE to apologize for the way they treated her. They also want to see Senior Life change the way it provides care. Danelle Morrow says, “We want Senior Life to know that we are watching. We want to make sure that no other family has to go through what we went through. Services and quality of care should never be reduced to save money. Profit over healthcare is an abomination!”




Written by Anna Cibils, PPF Base Building and Fundraising Teams

Last weekend (June 3rd-5th), eight Put People First! PA members from Pittsburgh, Johnstown, York, and Philadelphia volunteered at the Mission of Mercy (MOM-n-PA) Dental Clinic in Pittsburgh. MOM is a free dental clinic that happens once a year in different parts of Pennsylvania and provides comprehensive dental care to folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. Hundreds of people from the area who either have no dental insurance or who can’t afford to pay extremely high deductibles on their existing insurance came out to the Pittsburgh Convention Center to get the care they needed. PPF members volunteered in many capacities including as patient ambassadors and interpreters.

When we weren’t volunteering, we listened to patients tell stories of their experiences with the health system and engaged in conversations about the possibilities that would exist if universal healthcare was a reality in Pennsylvania. We also used the Healthcare Survey that PPF developed in 2015 to collect stories from about 50 people about how rising healthcare costs are affecting their ability to meet their basic needs. Several conversations stand out in my memory, including one with a woman who had been at the clinic since 4 A.M. who expressed her frustration at the power of insurance companies to set arbitrary deductible rates that had made it impossible for her to get the treatment she needs. Another patient I spoke with was adamant about the fact that it is unjust for wealthier people to have access to better care and we talked for a long time about why we are in favor of universal healthcare.

Bahjah and Kim help with check-in at Mission of Mercy 2016 in Pittsburgh.

I volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at MOM and in this role I was reminded of the lack of knowledge that exists in the healthcare field regarding barriers that lower income and undocumented immigrants face in accessing health care. I spent all of Saturday interpreting for an immigrant family who was able to get care that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to receive, but who also needed more care than the clinic was able to provide that day. I was especially grateful in that moment to be volunteering as a member of PPF, because we were able to connect the family to an immigrant rights and advocacy group in Pittsburgh who agreed to assist the family in finding resources for continued care.

I’m thankful for the partnership that PPF and MOM have developed over the years, so that we can reach Pennsylvanians most affected by the current healthcare crisis.

For me, this trip reaffirmed the importance of Put People First! PA’s work, because it’s not enough for dental care to be treated as a human right in Pennsylvania only once a year. I’m excited to see how the connections we made this weekend lead to emerging PPF leaders in Western PA, which will allow us to continue building power across Pennsylvania to transform our health system and break isolation for people who face a daily battle to meet their basic needs.

A special thank you to PPF members and friends who hosted us in Pittsburgh, including Dawn Plummer and Diana Polson, Eve Wider, and friends of our newest field organizer Ben Fiorillo!

Today, PPF members delivered 500 signatures from Pennsylvanians in 26 counties who are requesting a public hearing before any new rate increases on Affordable Care Act/Marketplace (Obamacare) plans are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance.

Also today, insurance companies’ initial requests for rate increases were made public here. As you can see, increases of up to 48% are requested. We want a lot more people to know this information so please spread the word about this site.IMG_20160525_120629095_TOP


Sean and Nijmie on the road to Harrisburg. “500 + say YES to a Public Hearing”


Rich of the York Organizing Committee shows David Buono, the Insurance Department’s Consumer Liaison a map with stickers on the 26 counties where residents are calling for a public hearing.

Below, Zack displays the heap of petition signatures as we talk to David. David asked us to pass along huge thanks to all the work that went into creating this effort and the many conversations and stories shared along the way.

Our conversation was friendly but we know that the increasing cost of care is a life and death issue in our communities. We are serious about real participation in and accountability for the decisions that impact our lives.

We let him know that we’re not finished until the PID joins the 500 in saying YES to a #PIDratehearing. Look out for next steps in your e-news and sign up for PPF e-mails to stay in the loop!