We like to pretend we live in a safe box in which we think nothing will happen to our family.
We watch our child do the usual things kids do, such as play sports or take part in the school play. But what do we do when something happens?
For instance, your child comes home from school one day and has mysterious symptoms. You take them to your family doctor and think “maybe it’s a virus.” Weeks go by, then months. Your child isn’t improving. You finally go to a specialist where you receive the news of a possible chronic illness; you are left wondering and traveling to see specialists and having more tests done just to find answers about what is wrong with your child.
Meanwhile, your child is still sick and struggling with these symptoms. This is a story that dozens of Meigs County families have encountered — a real horror story come to life. Such scenarios are why the Children with Medical Handicaps program exists for normal kids that were doing great one day and then sick the next. For some families, the illness is managed by an insulin pump, surgeries, medications, IVIG therapy or chemotherapy. For other families the child’s condition worsens and home care is needed.
The Meigs County Health Department’s CMH program provides assistance and advocate services for families during challenging times. There are approximately 50 Meigs County kids (and their families) currently benefiting from this program. More than a “third-party health insurance,” the program offers home nursing visits and service coordination by a local public health nurse. Home visits provide an individualized approach to each family, allowing time with the child and parents to assess needs. The service coordination empowers parents; supports the family via IEP meetings to address medical absences and needed services; makes referrals to appropriate agencies (when assistance is needed most), and of course, help with medical expenses that add up quickly.
If you are faced with the reality of parenting a chronically ill child, contact me at the Meigs County Health Department by calling 740-992-6626.
You will be glad you did.
Angie Rosler is a registered nurse at the Meigs County Health Department.