The Littlest Victims of The Recession – Part I

Times have not been easy. It’s no surprise that many of us will leave this recession with more than a few “battle scars”. But for the littlest ones, the ones who can’t fight their own battles, the economic crisis has begun to take on a much more frightening tone as it threatens their health and in some cases even their lives.

According to CBS Early Show medical correspondent Dr Jennifer Ashton, nationwide 44% of children’s hospitals are reporting increases in ER visits this year. At Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio – one of the larger children’s hospitals in the country, traffic is up in the ER, even though the population of children in northeast Ohio is down.

Dr Edward Barksdale, chief of pediatric surgery, says the ER is busier than ever because people are waiting to seek care. Too many can’t go to a doctor’s office and end up coming to the ER instead, delaying care until its necessary. Then there are cases such as baby Hailey Sarubbi, born at 23 weeks and weighing little more than a pound who is struggling to survive because her mother went into premature labor after working seven days a week to make ends meet. And 17-year old Teauna Boysaw who didn’t have health coverage when she came into the ER with an infected cyst…her mother, a nursing assistant, couldn’t afford the $550 monthly fee to insure her children.
CBS News Interactive: Children In Danger

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that our little ones are ending up in ER’s across the country. Do we blame the parents who delay treatment until it is absoutely necessary because it is more important to put food on the table? Do we blame a system where one in nine children lacks health insurance coverage? Do we blame the doctors and nurses who keep the child waiting in the ER, sometimes for hours, because every day there are more and more to treat.

Or is there something simpler we should consider here. Perhaps rather than blame, we could look for a way to help …a way to support…a way to cheer on every caregiver who is managing to not only survive these unbelievably awful times, but doing their very best to make life a little better for the child in their care – whether it’s their own or someone elses. Maybe it’s by relying on each other that we find the answers to the problems…for them…and for us. Perhaps its silly to look to a television show for any real meaning, but maybe the castaways on ABC’s Lost were on to something when they said “live together, die alone”. All I know is its up to us to make sure the littlest victims of the recession never become its casualties.

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids. Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team


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