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Five-year-old Gwendolyn is a happy, kind and exuberant child whose smile, unfortunately doesn’t reflect her personality. During a free health screening at her elementary school a nurse discovered extensive decay, resulting in a dental referral for three fillings, eight stainless steel crowns as well as two root canals. Gwendolyn’s mother works full time and her father is on disability. After all they do to make ends meet for their family, they still could not afford dental insurance. In all, Gwendolyn’s needed surgery was going to cost close to $2,000.
“When you hear Gwendolyn’s story, you can feel her parent’s exhaustion from trying to get their child the help she needs. Even when you are making a decent salary, a $2,000 dental bill out of the blue can make or break you for the entire year,” Jami Stewart, a case grant manager with First Hand explains.
When children have a condition that requires constant care and unplanned funds it is all you can do to ensure they get the care they deserve. Families unable to afford treatments, equipment, or medication related to their child’s care may feel lost or panicked. It is important for these families to know that they are not alone and that the resources they are looking for do exist. Regardless of the family’s circumstances, the child’s health is the only thing that matters.
As a case grant manager, Jami worked as an advocate for the family with her dentist and was able to get Gwendolyn’s treatment covered in full. She sees children in situations like this every day and finds ways through her connections to track down the treatment, device, medication, or equipment they need. Jami leverages the relationships in dental and physician offices built by the case grant managers at the foundation to get the child to a healthier place.
“Having Gwendolyn’s surgery paid for was a total game changer for this family,” Jami recalled. All the strife her parents were facing over this unsurmountable financial obstacle was gone.
Parents and guardians in this situation want to be heard. As they begin their child’s health care journey in a system that can seem daunting at times, it helps to have someone willing to listen, and be a resource and advocate for them.
“You remove all judgement and know what truly matters is getting children the help they need. Why they are in this situation does not matter,” Jami shares.
Children all over the world have inadequate access to care and First Hand works to fill the gaps one child at a time. Our case grant managers, like Jami, work to determine the best way to get these families the care they need, treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve.