OLATHE, Kan. -- An Olathe woman was wrapped up in governmental red tape for months and nearly lost thousands of dollars because of it.
For 6 months, Hazel Gray has been trying to get a corrected copy of her birth certificate from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The original spells her middle name wrong, and one missing letter could mean missing out on a cruise next month, which Gray calls the trip of a lifetime.
"'Cause my mother, she has 7 kids and she wanted all of her kids to be with her on her 80th birthday, and that is what she wanted to do," Gray said.
Gray can't get a passport for her trip because her birth certificate doesn't match her other necessary documents. She filled out the paperwork and sent in payment for the birth certificate correction the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on March 28.
"I saw that my check was cashed April 5, maybe April 15, something like that," Gray said. "I called in the middle of April to find out how long it took. I spoke with someone, and she told me they were a little behind, to call back in a couple of weeks."
A couple of weeks turned into much longer.
"Called back maybe about the beginning of May. They said we are about 3-4 months behind," Gray said.
Then she called in July and said she was told they were working on submissions from February. Once again, she was told to call back in a couple of weeks.
"Called back probably the end of July -- still behind," Gray said.
She called back the next week, and still the agency was behind.
"Now we are in September," Gray said. "I called on Friday, same thing: Call back next week."
FOX4 Problem Solvers reached out to the department to help sort it out. The agency wouldn't say anything, citing privacy concerns. So FOX4 went right to the top. But Randall Williams, director of the agency, wasn't available.
So FOX4 went to Congressman Kevin Yoder's office. The congressman was out of town, but his staff passed on Gray's problem. Yoder sent an email saying, in part, "I will do all I can to resolve this issue for Hazel."
"Hopefully I will get it expedited and be able to go, and we can celebrate my mother's birthday," Gray said.
Then Tuesday afternoon, Gray said she was finally contacted by someone at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That person said her birth certificate correction is finally being processed and will be finished by Wednesday and shipped to her overnight.