GRANDVIEW - Their two hospital beds sit close to each other in the small living room of their Grandview home. Robert Talley lies on one of the beds. His head is propped so he can watch television or look out the window onto Jade Road. What is left of his right arm, amputated after an infection, sits on a pillow on his stomach. He cannot move and has not been able to for 35 years.

Ann, his wife, sits on the other bed. For 35 years, she has cared for Robert. It is her job. She bathes him, feeds him, runs him through his physical therapy routines, gives him his medications and even wipes tears from his eyes. She prides herself on keeping Robert
bedsore-free.

But the years of care have taken a toll on Ann. She injured herself bathing Robert three years ago, hurt her leg and has ankle problems. Her balance is off, and her strength is not what it used to be, she said. She cannot lift Robert up anymore for him to clear his lungs and is afraid it will kill him.

"I can't lift him, and he will have fluid build up on his lungs, and he will die," she said. "I can't do it anymore. I'm too old."

The Talleys need a lift, a lift to help Ann set Robert upright so he can clear his lungs, and they say they need it now. However, they have had to wait. Difficulty coordinating paperwork between Robert's doctor's office and county and state programs has delayed the Talley getting a lift or receiving word on when one might be coming, said Sue Scott, a supervising social service practitioner who works for San Bernardino County.

"We were just a little bogged down in the paperwork," Scott said.

For nearly two weeks now, Robert has tried to get the state to buy him a $1,400 electric powered lift, something he has needed for a year and a half, he said. And he thinks it is not too much to ask.

"I've never asked them for anything," Robert said about his relationship with the state. "I would imagine over the 36 years we've saved them millions."

Robert was paralyzed in an auto collision in 1973. Driving back from Springfield, Ill. on Route 66, he hit a pothole and crashed straight into an oncoming car, he said. It left him a functional quadriplegic. He still has feeling throughout his body; he just cannot move
it, he said.

Ann and Robert traveled from state to state after the collision, receiving care in Oklahoma before coming to California. In California, Robert qualified for the state's In-Home Supportive Service, a disability program, and allowed him to employ Ann as his primary caregiver and pay her with state money. Robert said the program saves the money by keeping him out of an expensive nursing home. Now, however, Robert is afraid the program is denying him a lift that could save his life.

Kevin Smith, Robert's doctor, said the potential mucus and fluid build up in Robert could cause complications, but a lift might not be the only solution. He said a good hospital bed would be able to lift Robert up enough to clear his lungs out. Ann said that Robert's bed at home only goes up so far and even then, Robert slides down the bed and is not held up. She thinks a lift is the only way.

"Could they benefit from a lift? Yeah, they would benefit from a lift," Smith said. "What I can't say is does life or death depend on a lift."

MediCal can pay for the lift, Scott said, but not without the correct paperwork. Smith has to first request a lift for Robert's care. Then a lift is found and MediCal takes the bill. Scott said that Smith has requested the lift and starting on Thursday, the county will work with MediCal to expedite the process and advocate for Robert's lift.

Smith said sometimes patients wait months for MediCal purchased equipment, even if a person is in bad shape. Scott still does not have a time frame for when Robert may receive his lift.

"I hope we can get it to Mr. Talley lickety-split," Scott said. "We have a lot of respect for Mr. Talley and a lot of concern."

In the meantime, the Talleys are still waiting for a lift. Ann still tries to lift Robert's frail 130-pound frame, and a neighbor comes by in the evening to help lift him. Robert tries to get Ann to stop trying to lift him, worried she will further hurt herself. Ann is worried Robert might die if she stops.