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!