TROY – For a 6th grader with a hurt arm or an 8th grader with severe stomach pains, quick evaluation and treatment can keep these small problems from becoming major ones. For many kids, it simply takes a quick call to a parent, and they’re on their way to their doctor or urgent care center. But when the parent or guardian doesn’t have transportation, health insurance or money for a co-pay, even a minor illness or injury could put the child in crisis. Fortunately for these children, a special “Kids in Crisis” fund at the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation helps ensure that most of their illnesses and injuries are quickly and easily taken care.
“Not having easy access to care is an issue for almost 80 percent of the elementary, middle and high school students in Montgomery County,” says Gina Smith, FNP, with the FirstHealth School Health Centers, which provide health care for students while they are at school.
The Montgomery Foundation started the Kids in Crisis Fund more than a decade ago to help children who might not otherwise receive the variety of medical care they need. The fund helps them remain healthy and in school.
“The fund covers a wide range of needs, from medications, eyeglasses and hearing aids to visits to dermatologists, ENTs, orthopaedists, urgent care and mental health providers,” says Smith. “Without this money, it would be extremely difficult to get children the care they need and deserve. It’s a very valuable resource for our community.”
Parents and guardians give permission for this care at the beginning of each school year. And each day, on average eight to 10 students with unexpected health issues visit the FirstHealth school-based health centers. If untreated, some of these issues could become major ones, she says. The center also provides well-child services like check-ups and vaccines.
“We provide care they might not get if it weren’t for the Kids in Crisis Fund,” says Smith. “Beginning at 7:45 a.m. each day, they start coming through our doors.”
“The most important aspect of this program is that it allows School Health Center nurses to see children immediately, so there is no delay in care,” says Beth Walker, R.N., president of FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital. “We’ve worked very, very hard to break down barriers that prevent them from being as healthy as possible. Kids in Crisis is a good example of that.”
Since 2004, more than $150,000 has been disbursed to support the children in the Montgomery County Schools through Kids in Crisis. Monies for this important fund come from donations to events such as the Montgomery Foundation’s spring events. These events have also funded programs that target serious issues that the students face daily – issues like mental health problems and childhood obesity.
Last year, for example, the Montgomery Foundation successfully raised enough funds to build two new walking/running trails for another health initiative, “The Daily Mile.” This year, the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation Spring Event, which is slated for Friday, April 27, at STARworks, in Star, will support the MARCHES program. This program uses a family- and community-oriented approach to wellness by helping children and their families develop a healthier lifestyle. The program includes exercise and fun activities, healthy eating and general health education.
Tickets to the event are $75 per person. Doors open at 6 p.m. There will be silent and live auctions and dinner catered by Elliott’s. To purchase tickets for the Spring Event on April 27, call (910) 571-5024, or to learn more about the event, visit www.firsthealth.org/springevent.