Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Food supplies making a real impact!

Teresa Bevins, clinical social worker in UVA Medical Center Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) sent me a few notes this week. She related a recent case of a mother whose child from northern Virginia transferred here from an outside hospital. The woman speaks very little English and requires an interpreter; however, she was able to tell Teresa that she had no money, and her friends were watching her other kids at home and she needed help.

After providing this young mother with a number of meals, she responded to Teresa with, “God bless you” in Spanish.

Teresa has notified other social staff that they just need to page her to access the meals which IHS is providing directly to Teresa and stored in freezers in PICU every two weeks. There is a sign-out procedure in place, which has now extended access to all social workers in the main hospital to meet these family needs, even overnight.

Teresa said that this monthly stocking of freezers has enabled parents to stay with their little ones and not stress about how to afford a meal. She added, “Your efforts and those of donors who support you, are truly a blessing to so many families.”

A tiny safety seat is no small thing…

We have now received three calls in the last year from social staff for assistance with child safety seats. Last week it was for a booster seat for a child from out of state who was sent to the Medical Center in an ambulance. The family had a seat at home, but it was not brought with them when they were transported to be with the child. The family did not have funds to buy another one, and had already received gas vouchers to help get them home. A child cannot be discharged until he or she is able to be discharged to a vehicle for safe travel, and the booster seat made that happen. The seat can be used for the child’s little sister next year when she will need the extra one for traveling. We made the purchase of the seat and delivered it quickly.

Lodging needs shift monthly…

May and June have been active for fee assistance for UVA Hospitality House, especially for patients and families in need of week- long stays. It’s the most reasonable room rate around, but when one has no funds to stay for the week or balance that stay by not eating, then the most economical room is not reasonable.

Commercial hotel rooms are still very much used when Hospitality House is either full or a child is out of necessity with a family member. Also, when a child arrives with a family member by Medicaid taxi and Ronald McDonald House is full and not able to receive them upon arrival, then the alternative is a hotel room , of which many arrivals can simply not afford. IHS has assisted numerous times over the last year, and again last week.

Lodging funds running very low…

Most of you know that we are personally the largest funding source for this charity, and we are now doing that by allowing more couples to make their ministerial fee deposit as a donation directly to the charity. That is now about $150-$200 per wedding, but it is simply not enough to sustain lodging costs.

We only perform about 2-3 weddings a month throughout the year and those are generally concentrated from April –November. The other months are truly pressing. That means we are personally allowing ministerial fees up to $600 average monthly, and working full-time in the charity with overhead of accounting, legal, promotional and computer needs, and as you know, none of us takes a penny from these efforts. These internal costs are in addition to our direct donations to support the food, lodging, transport and co-pay donations. To say we could use your support is a bit of an understatement.

We know that most of you have a true appreciation for Virginia and the University Medical Center, which is a part of the University. The Med Center is a marvel with its new Cancer Center almost completed, its infant transplant clinic which is a magnet for the vast area served, and its trauma professionals serving all comers.

Sometimes, in all this building and professional offerings, some of those being served and their families are lost in the bigness of it all. So many arrive with a cry for help to the professional medical staff, but they are also crying from hunger and a place for their closest loved one to be near them through a crisis.

This charity was formed to seek to alleviate the unmet needs which are not noticed by the average insured and able visitors to this marvelous institution. We saw this need, and literally hundreds are helped. We are not asking for others to stop and witness this lost tribe in our own midst, those who are trapped without insurance and no work. We are only asking for a contribution so that WE CAN TAKE AWAY THE PAIN OF HAVING TO WORRY MORE ABOUT WHERE TO STAY THE NIGHT BEFORE OR AFTER A CRITICAL APPOINTMENT OR WHAT TO EAT, AND CONCENTRATE FOR THIS SHORT STAY ON THEIR CANCER, THEIR MISCARRIAGE, THEIR CHILD’S DEATH-THREATENING DISEASE.

When a social worker calls, she or he is asking to help them with assistance to remove these extra depressing needs of hunger and shelter. We are asking for your support to allow us to reduce the pressures which can literally kill people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Try to imagine the pain of a father’s emptiness when sitting with a small child with a suitcase in a giant hospital lobby, just hoping a social worker can arrange a room for tonight, so he doesn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of staying in a lobby or car with a child who will enter the hospital tomorrow for treatment of a critical disease. IMAGINE PLEASE… AND MAKE AN EFFORT IN THE SMALLEST WAY THIS MONTH.

We have asked periodically for your consideration for as little as $5-$10-$20 monthly as a charitable contribution for an annual tax deduction. We know the range is wide, but if we could simply encourage each of you to consider a consistent pattern, it would be so appreciated.

Thank you for hearing….Blessings… Elisheva and T. Wade