Monday, April 26, 2010

A Very Important Request for families of pediatric patients

A Personal note from Rev. Elisheva Clegg

On April 19th I received a very heartfelt and emotional e-mail from Teresa Bevins, social worker at UVA Medical Center. I will not seek to summarize what is so concisely written in her appeal on one detailed page. Names and detailed information is often altered for privacy purposes.

On April 23rd, T. Wade and I met with the Assistant Manager Katherine Runkle at the Barracks Road Kroger Store in Charlottesville, Virginia, who assisted us with sales items and a $10 gift card, and provided at her own expense four(4) insulated carrying bags for frozen foods and then donated half of the expense of the needed items to the charity for the pediatric ward for a 2-3 weeks supply. Teresa’s request was honored within the week, and future deliveries monthly will be determined based on need.

Whether it’s $5.00 for a few frozen meals, $10.00 for a one night stay at UVA
Hospitality House, $50.00 for a commercial hotel room, or whatever is possible for the general fund to meet all of these needs and more, your consideration for support is vital to these patients and family members.

Dear Reverend Clegg,

Thank you so much for your call on Friday. I will give
you a few case scenarios of the types of issues , families of our pediatric patients face while here at UVA.

Case 1: Adam is a 10 year old boy recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure, previously healthy, and now awaiting a heart transplant. This child cannot leave the hospital until a heart is found. His health condition is so precarious that the doctors cannot risk him being discharged at this time. He has lost a twin sibling of the same disorder several years ago. His single mother is struggling to be here and has not been able to work at her job which only pays minimum wage. They live 4 hours away from UVA and mother does not have a car. She relies on gas vouchers I donate for a friend to bring her to be with her child, but also to return home as needed for other children. She has no funds to eat and I secure a donated food box weekly from a local charity, but its contents are not enough for her to survive. She is very gracious and grateful for any food.

Case 2: Carmen is a 2 month old infant with a congenital heart problem at birth. She has never been home and her mother stays by her side and also awaits the time that her child is strong enough to go home after numerous surgeries. Mother speaks little English and father must try to continue to work so they have a home to return to. Father is struggling on low wages and little is left over to feed mother at the hospital and buy the gas he needs to travel here on weekends. Family lives 3 hours away. Mother is scared to leave her child for more than a bathroom break or shower. She also gets a food box but it does not meet all her needs. She is also very grateful for the assistance she gets.

Case 3: Johnny is a 7 year old receiving IV antibiotics for a clean out for his Cystic Fibrosis. He will be here for several weeks. He is one of 4 children in his family. Mom is divorced with no dad present, and her minimum wage job barely feeds the children at home and pays the rent. Mother has no money to eat and also relies on weekly food box from local charity and this doesn't meet her needs when she is here. She relies on extended family to care for the other children and Medicaid taxis to bring her here for the few times she is able to go home and check on the other children.

Case 4: Shania age 9. She and her family were in route to visit grandparents and were hit by another driver which resulted in her breaking a leg and arm. Her sibling sustained a head injury. Her father was injured also and is at another hospital. Mother accompanied the 2 children when they were transferred to UVA from Northern Virginia area. This family lives hundreds of miles away and has limited means. Mother is unable to afford the prices of cafeteria food and the food box she receives is not meeting her needs.

Although, we use food box donations, they are shrinking in size due to the increased numbers needing assistance in the local community. Often, parents have special dietary needs and cannot eat some of what is donated. Also, it is a 24 hour turn-around time before we can receive them and if the admission is on a Friday or the weekend we cannot order a food box until the following Monday which makes it arrive on Tuesday. These parents are struggling to survive and take care of their children. They often sleep bedside by their child and are not getting sufficient rest. Unfortunately, Ronald McDonald house stays full due to the large number of Cardiology patients we receive from all over Virginia due to the fact we are one of the few hospitals that do pediatric cardiology surgeries. We are also the trauma center for a large portion of Virginia and many patients are transferred to us from outside hospitals that cannot meet their medical needs. We in the social work department would be extremely grateful to be able to receive frozen meals for the parents/caregivers of these children so they can focus on being a support to their children. Most of the families we see are struggling financially before they have a health crisis and these crises often cause much stress for them and may lead to other issues without intervention from social work . We would like to be able to have emergency supplies of frozen or microwavable meals to provide support to these parents. If there is anything else you need from me, please do not hesitate to ask and I will gladly comply. Thank you for considering helping these families.

Sincerely…Teresa Bevins BSW, Clinical Social Worker
What we ALL do together matters. Love…US Elisheva