The boy, nearly 1 year old, has started walking around his family’s apartment. These early wanderings by a child are a challenge for any...

The boy, nearly 1 year old, has started walking around his family’s apartment.

These early wanderings by a child are a challenge for any parent, but in this case, they can be especially dangerous.

chlogoThe boy has hemophilia A, a disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. Any bumps, scrapes or bruises that he gets can create a serious medical problem. That’s why he wears knee pads and a soft helmet for safety.

Once a week, the two-member team of social worker Andrea Parker and nurse Sharon Greer visit the apartment in Duluth, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta. They help the mother with advice, information and a medical check for her child.

The visits “have given me more resources,’’ says the mother, 34, who requested anonymity. “They have been helpful.”

The team comes from Childkind, an Atlanta nonprofit that delivers services for children who are disabled or have medically complex conditions.  

Childkind, referring to an analysis by the state Department of Community Health, says it saved Medicaid about $1.28 million over a two-year period through its work with 56 children.

The Community Health analysis found that Childkind home visits achieved a significant impact on the total Medicaid claims paid for these 56 children from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal 2015.

Childkind's Sharon Greer (left) and Andrea Parker

Childkind’s Sharon Greer (left) and Andrea Parker

The average per member per month cost (on an incurred basis) for 2013, prior to the home visit program, was $4,880.37, while that cost for 2015 was $2,508.78 – a decrease of 49 percent.

Another analysis, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, showed a 70 percent reduction in days of hospitalization when comparing periods of up to one year before and after a family completed Childkind services.

Kids are referred to the home visit program from Georgia DFCS, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and community providers. These children often are not developing normally and failing to gain weight, Parker says.

Many “are unable to eat normally,’’ Greer adds.

Without the services of Childkind, the two workers say, children are at risk of more hospitalizations and even death.

 

Stresses on moms and dads

 

The parents helped by the program – many of whom are single – live in poverty, with the children covered by Medicaid. Many of these families lack transportation.

The Childkind team helps enable parents to understand their child’s health condition and talk about it with health care providers.

“Parents are often not able to verbalize’’ their children’s problems in clear medical terms, Parker says.

“Once you break down the barriers, kids become more stable,’’ Parker adds.

The visits help a parent manage a child’s condition better and prevent hospitalizations, Childkind says.

In the Duluth apartment, Greer takes the boy’s vital signs and quizzes the mother about what should be done in a medical situation, such as bleeding or a fever. Parker helps the mother organize the boy’s medical appointments.

“You have needs, too,’’ Parker tells the mother. “Your feelings are your feelings.”

Before they leave, they give the mother “homework,” papers to fill out on the family’s medical and social needs.

Parker and Greer visit 12 to 15 families a week. Childkind serves about 100 children a year through this home visit program, funded by philanthropy and government grants, says Karl Lehman, Childkind’s CEO.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see Medicaid pay for this,’’ he adds.

Another analysis, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, showed a 70 percent reduction in days of hospitalization when comparing periods of up to one year before and after a family completed Childkind services.

Dr. Jordan Greenbaum, medical director of the Child Protection Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, says a social worker can help a family navigate the school system and the medical system, and can help deal with the stress the parents feel in caring for these children.

“There are an awful lot of special-needs kids,’’ Greenbaum says. “There’s a tremendous amount of support needed.”

The Childkind home visits are “a really innovative program and approach to a very difficult problem.”

 


Sign up for our free email alerts and follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @gahealthnews.
Help us fulfill our nonprofit mission with a tax-deductible donation!

Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

No comments so far.

Be first to leave comment below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Help us pursue our nonprofit mission with a tax-deductible donation.

Credit Cards

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS
Donations Welcome

Donate Icon