A Family Breathes Easier After Disaster Strikes

Dec 7, 2018

Hurricane Harvey struck Texas late in the day on August 25, 2017, bringing with it punishing winds and record-setting rainfall. The storm then headed north, creating a swath of destruction that affected 13 million people--at least 88 died, and tens of thousands lost their homes.

Eight-year-old Grace and her parents were luckier than many: they and their home made it through the storm. But Grace’s dad lost his job and had no choice but to leave Houston in search of work. He settled in Austin, TX, and Grace and her mother followed soon after. The enormous stresses of financial instability and finding a new home were compounded by their greatest concern: finding a doctor to care for Grace’s asthma. Further complicating matters, Grace’s parents are deaf, which created yet another hurdle in accessing assistance.

When Grace suffered a severe asthma attack, the family’s worst fear was realized. She was admitted to Dell Children’s Medical Center Hospital, where the doctors communicate with deaf patients and families over a video interpretation system. But without an in-house American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, Grace’s parents were worried that they wouldn’t be able to properly care for their daughter once she was home.

Fortunately, Grace’s school heard about the challenges facing the family and knew just who to call: Austin Children’s Health Project’s patient access representative, Joshua Aguilar.  Joshua immediately jumped into action. He brought an ASL interpreter on board the mobile medical unit for Grace’s appointment with Medical Director Dr. Marilyn Doyle.

Dr. Doyle, through the interpreter, was able to help Grace’s parents better understand how to manage Grace’s asthma, and addressed all their questions and concerns right then and there. When they wondered how they would afford the prescriptions, they were reassured that all her medicines would always be provided at no cost. When Grace couldn’t swallow the pills, the team switched her over to liquid medication. All her care was free, and always will be.

In a new city, without steady work, secure housing or health insurance—Grace’s family represents the tens of thousands of people struggling to survive after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey. At Children’s Health Fund, we understand families have specific challenges beyond their medical concerns. By deftly addressing such issues as lack of insurance and communication difficulties, our team was able to make all the difference for Grace. Indeed, since we first started seeing Grace, she has been successfully settling into her new community and her entire family is breathing easier.


Your generosity helps ensure that families who have had so much taken from them don’t lose access to urgently needed healthcare. You can continue to help families like Grace’s who are recovering after disaster here.