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Faces from the Field: Darlene Ray, MD

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

This week, we’re so happy to introduce you to Dr. Darlene Ray, who serves in our Southern Arizona Children’s Health Project.  Enjoy!

Caitlin (C):How long have you been working with CHF?

Darlene:   I first learned of CHF as a pediatric resident, working with Randy Christensen on his mobile unit dedicated to the homeless teens in Phoenix.  My work on the Southern AZ project began this past summer in June. 

C: What made you want to work for this type of organization?

Darlene: Since finishing my training 5 years ago, I have had a strong desire to work with the underserved in my community.  I believe that by increasing a child’s access to quality, preventive medical care, we can positively impact his/her future.  Through Children’s Health Fund, I now enjoy the supportive network of dedicated, compassionate health care providers who seek to accomplish that same goal.  Working on the mobile medical clinic has allowed me to provide quality medical care for children who otherwise are limited to only emergent care. 

C: What is your favorite part about working on the mobile clinic?

Darlene: Working with families with few resources and who face challenges on a daily basis can be difficult at times.  Knowing that we can help, even if in a small way, gives me great satisfaction. 

C: What’s your favorite thing to do when not working?

Darlene: When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and 2 sons, hiking, listening to or playing music, salsa dancing and traveling.

C: What are the biggest challenges children and families in your region are experiencing in accessing health care and how are you addressing them?

Darlene:  One of the greatest challenges our families face is lack of insurance coverage.  For many, it is due to cuts in state funding that have left a large portion of children (and adults) uninsured. For some mixed status families (children born in the US to parents who are not citizens), we have learned that they do not apply for Medicaid for their children out of fear.  Fortunately, with our sliding fee, we do not have to turn any of these families away.

C: What are some unique programs or events that your program has to offer?

Darlene: Our mobile medical clinic is new to our community, and we have been focusing much of our efforts in trying to inform the community of what we can offer.  Families are often surprised when they see that we have an electronic health record system, we can check their child’s vision and hearing, give vaccines, perform blood draws and perform comprehensive medical exams.   It also gives me great satisfaction to know that we are able to provide care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.  In essence they can theoretically be our patient for their lifetime.  That is precisely what a medical home is meant to be.  We just happen to be a home on wheels!

Photo Friday - Congrats to Jennifer Lopez!

Children's Health Fund congratulates Jennifer Lopez on being selected as one of the new American Idol judges.  Pictured above from Children's Health Fund 2007 Gala (from left to right):  Dr. Irwin Redlener, Karen Redlener, Paul Simon, Jennifer Lopez and her husband Marc Anthony.

New Health Reform Provisions to Help Kids Start Today!

by Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

Thumbs Up for New Health Provision to Help KidsToday, on the six month anniversary of the passage of health reform, several new health care provisions that greatly benefit children will begin to apply:

  • Eligible young people up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health plan;
  • Insurers cannot impose lifetime limits on coverage of “essential health benefits”;
  • Insurers may no longer charge co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance for preventive services; and,
  • Children younger than 19 can't be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Many children, especially those who are poor and underserved, often do not get the medical care they need. These children and their families face numerous barriers in accessing critically needed services—not having insurance coverage; being denied coverage because of a previous illness; or not having the money to pay co-pays and/or deductibles. This first wave of implementation of the health reform law will begin to chip away at these barriers and greatly benefit children who currently face overwhelming obstacles in getting comprehensive quality care.

Number of People in Poverty/Uninsured Rises in 2009

by Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

The U.S. Census Bureau released a few alarming statistics last week.  The first finding is that 43.6 million people, or 1 in 7, were in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million, or 13.2 percent, in 2008.  The second reported that the number of uninsured Americans jumped to almost 51 million in 2009, from 46.3 million uninsured in 2008. 

As we know all too well here at CHF, children living in poverty often do not get the medical care they need. Poor and underserved families face numerous barriers in accessing critically needed services, such as no insurance coverage or lack of transportation to get to the doctor.  Without access to regular health care, many children go without care for common ailments like asthma or cavities, which can lead to bigger and long term problems if left untreated. 

Statistics like these are an important wake up call for us all.  As the number of people living in poverty and those without insurance grow, the need for CHF's services grow. In addition, now, more than ever, it's essential to ensure that the critical pieces of health reform that were passed last year to help underserved children get care, are protected and not repealed.

Photo Friday: CHF's Day of Service with MBIA

►Pictured here are volunteers from MBIA an organization that is a part of Children's Health Fund's Workplace Giving Campaign.  Through their employee engagement they have helped enable a CHF mobile medical team to provide comprehensive health care to homeless children and families staying at a shelter in the Bronx.  After a tour of CHF's mobile unit, volunteers spent the day painting a youth recreational room at one of the homeless family shelters where CHF provides care. Thanks MBIA for all of your support and for a great day!

Faces from the Field: Kay Kelly, LPN

Nurse Kay Kelly of the Memphis Children's Health Project by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

Hi blog readers!! Today’s “Face from the Field”, Kay Kelly, LPN, comes from our program in Memphis. We hope you enjoy meeting her…don’t forget to leave a question or comment in the comments section below!

Caitlin (C): How long have you been working with CHF?

Kay: I have been at Le Bonheur for 3 years, and I have worked with the mobile unit 1 ½ years.

C: What made you want to work for this type of organization?

Kay: I came to this organization with 21 years of Public Health experience. I have a passion to help improve the health and well-being of those less fortunate.

C: What is your favorite part about working on the mobile clinic (or CHF fixed site)?

Kay: It is humbling to see the gratitude of the families and children we serve that might otherwise go without health care services. I’m glad we are here to help them.

Photo Friday - Eating Healthy!

Eating Healthy = Healthy Kids

► September 2010 has been designated National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month to try and shine the spotlight on the growing obesity epidemic among youth in the US.  CHF patient Selena knows that eating fruits will keep her healthy!

Why Arizona Needs to Focus on Kids

by Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund

On September 20th, 2010, Children's Health Fund (CHF) is partnering with the Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to hold a child health forum in Tucson, Arizona.

Children's Health Fund has two national network programs in Arizona, the Phoenix Children’s Health Project and the Southern Arizona Children’s Health Project.  While each program serves a unique patient population, they both deal with legislative decisions made at the state level, including budget cuts to important child health programs and supportive services on which patients and families depend.

Arizona has suffered more than most states in the current economic downfall.  Facing a $5.1 billion shortfall in 2010 (57.9% of the general budget), the state legislature passed and the governor approved the elimination of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  However, due to the passage of health care reform, the state would have lost millions in federal aid with the elimination of CHIP.  In an early signal of how the federal health care reform law will interact with state health policy, the state re-instated the CHIP program. Looking forward however, the state will face a projected $3.1 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year, meaning these programs will face funding cuts in the future.

Photo Friday - Heading Back to School

For many students, school begins next week.  Children's Health Fund programs around the nation provide services in their community, bringing medical, dental and mental health services directly to local schools.  Wishing everyone a safe & healthy Labor Day weekend!

Faces from the Field: Kimberly Williams, RN

Posted by Nurse Kim, Children's Health Fund’s Phoenix Children’s Health Project

My name is Kimberly Williams.   I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 16 years and feel extremely fortunate to have a career that I love so much.  I started working for Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 1994, first working in General Pediatrics and taking care of kids with a variety of health problems.  That experience gave me the confidence to work in the Emergency Department, where I worked as a staff nurse. After 4 years in the ER, I assumed the position of Interim Clinical Nurse Educator.  I loved being an educator, but my passion has always been “helping” children and their families, so you can imagine how excited I was when, two years ago, one of my nurse friends informed me that the “Crews’N Healthmobile” (CHF’s Phoenix Children’s Health Project) had an RN position available.  I applied the day after I found out and a few weeks later, I was boarding the Big Blue Medical Mobile Unit (MMU) for the very first time.   I was warned that this kind of work can take its toll, but since joining the Crews’N Healthmobile, my love for my job has only grown stronger and my passion for nursing has skyrocketed (I can tell you more about that in an upcoming post!).

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