August 7, 2019
When three-year-old Nuria walked into the New Orleans Children’s Health Project for her medical appointment with Dr. Kim Mukerjee, she cautiously felt her way around. She came upon a trash can with a metal lid and banged on it curiously. After one bang, she bent down and put her ear to it, then kept banging excitedly. For a blind child whose hearing is also impaired, ‘playing drums’ in this way was stimulus for her senses.
Nuria was born blind, possibly from a virus her mother acquired during her pregnancy. And, in spite of making many sounds, she cannot form any words and is severely behind in language developmental milestones.
Last fall, amidst the violence engulfing their home country of Honduras, her mother risked everything so she and Nuria could escape the gripping poverty, brutality, and painfully scarce medical resources there. She hoped that in the U.S. she could access the care that would let light into her world and allow her to reach her full potential.
Our New Orleans Children’s Health Project provides care to recently-arrived children with complex medical needs like Nuria.
During her first appointment with Dr. Mukerjee, Nuria was below her expected weight and height, so the clinic’s bilingual case manager Miguel Alonso helped the family secure WIC (Women, Infants, and Children program) support for nutritional assistance. Now, at her second visit, everyone celebrated that her weight had already improved.
But Nuria had needs to be addressed beyond a typical pediatric check-up. Dr. Mukerjee asked her mother if she had made an appointment with the ophthalmologist or neurologist. “Nuria is already three years old and any further delay in treatment will diminish the likelihood she will reach her full potential,” shared Dr. Mukerjee. The majority of brain development occurs in the first eight years of life but an amazing amount of neuron connections are made by the age of three. Without intervention soon, Nuria’s ability to thrive in the outside world could be jeopardized.
With no insurance, her mother shared that she had difficulty filling out the financial aid forms for the hospital. Dr. Mukerjee reassured her that Miguel would help.
Without the advocacy of Dr. Mukerjee and her team, an uninsured child like Nuria would never be able to access the specialized services she needs to thrive.
With a dramatic increase in recently-arrived children with complex needs like these, the clinic’s staff of three is struggling to provide this critical care.
Hundreds of migrant children in New Orleans are facing daunting healthcare barriers like Nuria, and they need your help. Your donations will enable our New Orleans Children’s Health Project to hire more staff who will ensure that Nuria, and other children like her, get the specialized care they desperately need.