Air conditioners can be difficult to fix during a stretch of intense heat, compounded by staffing shortages. But when someone’s health is at stake, the need is magnified.
Tonyia Harwell says she hasn’t slept the last few months because she’s worried about the temperature in her house. Her daughter, Dana, has a rare disorder and could die if the house gets too hot or too cold.
As a result of Prader-Willi syndrome, Dana has trouble controlling her body temperature and all the thermostats in the house have different readings.
When the thermostat is set at 76 degrees, it could be 80 degrees in the front of the house, but below 72 degrees in the back.
Dana’s health can be adversely affected by these big temperature differences, Tonyia says.
“She can’t go below 73 or above 77 because she could get hyperthermia or hypothermia and it could either damage her brain or kill her,” said Tonyia. “So, what I have to do is play Russian roulette with the thermostat, I go back and forth all night long and don’t get a lot of rest.”
With Dana’s condition, she can’t wait any longer to get it fixed, so she has called several companies to come out and fix it, but many say they don’t do duct work during the summer.
“I was calling companies crying but nobody seems to understand,” said Tonyia. “She’s my main concern. I can get hot and cold, but it’s her that can’t.”
As a result, Norfolk Air technicians drove all the way to Smithfield to investigate. Normally, they don’t drive to Smithfield, but knew this was an urgent situation.
“Suffolk is usually where we stop, but we try to help people as best we can,” said Matt Smith.
Prioritizing Dana’s health above all else.
“It’s obviously a priority so we are going to come out here first and see what we can do to help them,” said Smith.