Wednesday morning I was in a hurry. Darn that construction zone slow down! Didn’t they know I had a train to catch? Every time I commute to NYC on a week day, I’m stricken with panic during the entire 75-minute drive to the train station. Will I make it this time? Have I given myself enough of a cushion to counteract work-day traffic? I have actually missed my intended train before by mere moments. I turned the car off; the train pulled out of the station. This morning, my luck was slightly better. I snagged the very last metered parking spot–conveniently located right in front of the pay station and stairway to the tracks–and grabbed my ticket with only a couple minutes to spare. Safe!
What would compel me to wrestle with travel to The City when I normally would be at my desk at work? A fantastic event BlogHer invited me to: a TYLENOL TweetUp featuring Children’s Health Fund and Dr. Tanya Altmann to announce a great new program called Smiling It Forward. Inspired by photos submitted by relieved parents–”feel better” smiles from kiddos post-illness–TYLENOL decided to convert those smiles to support for a good cause. For each photo of what makes you smile that’s submitted to the website smilingitforward.com, TYLENOL will make a $1 donation to Children’s Health Fund to aid them in their efforts of bringing health care to everyone.
How do they bring health care to everyone? Did you know that more than 1 in 5 children in the United States suffers from poverty? The Children’s Health Fund group we spoke with is based out of South Bronx, which is one of the poorest communities in the United States. While they have a clinic in South Bronx that cares for over 6000 people every year, they also have mobile medical units to bring health care to the people who need it most. Weekly visits bring stability in otherwise unstable lives, providing not only immunizations, but full medical care, including a team of specialists who can meet with patients remotely, if necessary. This is a really high tech operation! The mobile medical units, while short on space, are equipped with a waiting area, supplies and storage corridor, and two exam rooms. Records have been stored electronically for 20 years now, making them accessible at all times without having to be tracked down before a visit. In addition to the mobile medical units, there is a dental clinic and family support. Mothers are brought together for social support; better parenting means happier homes, aiding in the reduction of toxic stress, “a mix of social, environmental and physical challenges that can crush low-income children’s health and emotional well-being.” (Children’s Health Fund) This is a full wellness program!
Dr. Robin Scott of Children’s Health Fund has been working with the program for over 11 years. In that time, she’s seen children she cared for grow up and bring their new families to her. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. How many people can say they’ve seen directly how their work improves others’ lives? Dr. Scott can. Doctors like Dr. Scott become not only caregivers, but mentors, offering support with SATs and college applications. One patient was so inspired by the program and the care he received that he applied for a scholarship, got into med school, and is currently completing his residency at Montefiore Medical Center (the hospital the South Bronx program is affiliated with). Once he’s finished, he intends to join the Children’s Health Fund group and complete the circle, becoming a caregiver to those he once was a part of. What an incredible journey!
After our inspiring conversation with Children’s Health Fund, we were treated to red velvet cupcakes and a Q&A with well-known pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann. Dr. Tanya is the author of Mommy Calls, editor-in-chief of The Wonder Years and Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5, as well as the child health expert for several network television shows. She took time out of her busy schedule to chat kids and colds and what’s on our minds. We learned that: in older children, it’s more how the child is acting than the fever itself that indicates if we should be bring the child in to the doctor; that colds are more sudden, while allergies will be more persistent and seasonal; that eczema requires a regimen of thick ointment or moisturizing cream applied several times a day, most especially in the 3 minutes after bathing, to help keep it under control; and that children can really suffer from over-scheduling. Dr. Tanya suggested no more than 1 extra-curricular activity a day, as children also need down time to play and explore their imaginations. It was an informative session and Dr. Tanya delivered her advice with a smile, easing all in her presence.
At the end of the Tweetup, I left inspired. This was not my usual activity, yet it impacts me. I have children who are 6 and 8. I live close to NYC and I live closer still to many poverty-stricken families. I’ve been under-insured and I’ve refused care because of it. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have even fewer options. Thankfully, programs like Children’s Health Fund’s exist and are changing that. I’ve already shared what makes me smile to help fund their future. I hope you will do the same!
Disclosure: BlogHer and TYLENOL compensated me for tweeting during this event. I received no further compensation for writing this post. All opinions and photos remain my own.