The need for ‘kinship cares’
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” — (Matthew 9:12)
The other day I was discussing the cost of healthcare with a friend of mine, Rev. James N. Preston who lives in Phoenix. He believes as do I, that the quality of healthcare one receives is determined by how much money one is able to spend on being well or on the recovery from injury and illness.
“How many people,” he asked me, “do you think have died from HIV/AIDS since Magic Johnson was diagnosed with the disease in 1991? And how many people do you think have been able to handle MS (Multiple Sclerosis) as successfully as Ann Romney?”
The answer to the first question is 30 million and the answer to the second is very, very few. His point is that money and lots of it is required to have access to the most capable of physicians and the best of medical services. Unfortunately, he’s correct. Money, and lots of it, is something most of us do not have. Magic Johnson and the Romneys do.
Because most of us don’t have money, that means when it comes to healthcare, most of our people are not able to go to a private physician and instead often have to use the local emergency room for primary care.
There is little question that race, income and ethnicity all influence a person’s ability to receive specific procedures and treatment. I recently learned of a Haitian youngster who, several years ago, was given treatment for an eye injury. The stitches he received are as of this date, still in his eye.
In 2009, the death rate for African Americans was higher than whites for heart disease, stroke, cancer, influenza and pneumonia, asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and of course, homicide. Our life expectancy is six years shorter at birth and two years shorter after age 65. Many of these health issues have their onset during childhood but are either unrecognized or remain untreated.
What happens to children with health problems, especially those children whose parents, for whatever reason, are no longer in their lives? If they’re blessed the Kinship Cares Initiative (KCI) is what happens to them.
KCI provides healthcare services and resources for what is now called “nontraditional families.” Kathleen Sobczak, a case manager for the program, said this: “In our community and nursing organizations, we find that many grandparents, relatives and even friends are raising children that are not their own. They find themselves in a new role as parents or guardians to their grandchildren or other extended family members.” She goes on to say the greatest need for these new families is often healthcare for the child or children now in their care.
Invariably, the health problems have not been treated because the children have been uninsured all of their lives.
This most needed initiative provides healthcare services that include but are not limited to assistance in applying for health insurance, securing a primary care physician, appointments for wellness exams, dental and vision care, specialty care and immunization updates.
Just as important, KCI helps these families “navigate” not just the healthcare system but gives help by referring those who need housing, legal, counseling, transportation and other support services.
The biggest problem for the initiative is that a lot of folks who need the service don’t know the program exists. Families who are eligible for services are those living in family settings with a grandparent, aunt or uncle, a non-relative, or an adult sibling caring for children who are zero-18 years of age. The KCI can be reached at (954)759-7423, ask for Cynthia Durizil or Kathleen Sobczak.
Keep in mind that just because you can’t afford healthcare for a child living with you does not mean it’s not available for that child.
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