No Shame in Asking for Help
When the world shut down in March 2020, the unemployment rate began to skyrocket. Hardworking parents lost their jobs and were suddenly unable to afford basic necessities for their families. This was to be expected due to businesses shutting down and families mandated to stay in their homes. What I didn’t expect was to see the effects of this shutdown, to the same extent or even worse, over a year later.
I serve as a Care Coordinator at The Players Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The Players Center is the hospital’s advocacy center which focuses on injury and disease prevention and increasing access to care for people from all different backgrounds. My main priority at the center is assisting parents with applications for low-cost or free health insurance for their children. I also often help them apply for SNAP benefits, also called Food Assistance. When the pandemic first started, calls to the center poured in requesting help with applications. The number of applications my coworkers were helping with almost tripled from the amount before the shutdown in 2020. This month, over a year later, we still are seeing a record amount of requests.
I meet with families from all different walks of life that are seeking help with finding health insurance or SNAP benefits for their children. Some parents come in apologizing for even applying for benefits. They explain that they have never tried to get any “hand-outs” before, but they cannot find work and have no other options. We accept them with open arms and make it clear that there is no shame in seeking these services because they are preventive health measures that can keep their children from getting very sick. Preventative health care costs the government considerably less than treating medical problems that emerge. Children with health insurance are also less likely than uninsured children to miss days of school, allowing parents to continue to provide for their family instead of having to stay home with their children. We encourage families to always find a way to ensure their children have access to healthcare even during this unprecedented time in history.
Even though many people think that the pandemic is coming to an end, it is important to remember the long-term societal effects that are still very prevalent. Even though I studied Public Health in school, the hands-on experience that I am getting has made me really understand how beneficial it is. Serving at The Players Center for Child Health has advanced my skills in professional communication and increased my determination working with policies that are ever-changing. I am grateful to be learning in a collaborative environment with other NHC members. As I continue to study and work in this field, I will take the invaluable knowledge that I have learned from these experiences.