Yesterday afternoon when I got home from work, my mother-in-law informed me that my daughter April had a fever. Immediately, I went into Mom Mode, and started doing everything that you’re supposed to do in these situations. I emailed my boss and let him know that I wouldn’t be in the following morning. In the middle of the night her temperature spiked to 104, and so this morning I hopped in my car & took her right in to see the pediatrician as soon as they opened. One throat swab later and we confirmed that she had Strep Throat, and so he called in a prescription. With my insurance, I was out $25 for the doctor’s visit and $18 for the antibiotics. We spent today at home cuddling on the couch, eating ice cream and watching Sesame Street.
That’s what you’re supposed to do when your kid is sick, right? But let’s take a look at the resources that I had available to me to do “all the right things”. I have health insurance, which 1-in-8 children in NC do not. I also have prescription drug coverage, which I must presume an even larger percentage don’t have. I have a job where I can take days off to take care of my family – a luxury that the majority of hourly employees do not have. I have a car that I could put my daughter in, and a pediatrician that I could take her to – again, many low-income families don’t have transportation or a primary health care provider for their children.
Many of us take all of these resources for granted, and when our kids get sick we don’t think twice about what we should do. But those parents without insurance, or job stability, or transportation, or savings to pay for the unexpected, those parents pause. They have to decide whether their kid is really sick enough to take to the doctor. And if they do go, it’s to the emergency room when their illnesses are far more progressed and the treatment far more expensive. My friend whose daughter has severe food allergies told me the other day that food allergies are a middle class illness – and that the reason why is because poor kids with food allergies die before they are ever diagnosed. This absolutely broke my heart.
So what can we do? Honestly, I’m not an expert in the area of Health. I have NO IDEA what to do about kids that need health care. What I do know is that I can GIVE to the United Way – whose four main areas of focus are Education, Health, Income & Safety – and know that the experts and partner agencies that we’ve convened right here in our community will get the funding that they need to tackle these huge problems. Thank goodness for that.
Now I’m going to go peek in on my baby doll who is finally asleep and hope that her fever has broken by the morning.