You are here: Home » The Toll on the Family
The Toll on the Family
When a child is sick, one or both parents may be missing work to stay with the child, resulting in financial hardship and loss. Sisters and brothers at home still need love and attention, especially during this stressful time. Anxiety and fear over the child’s condition and the future weigh heavily on family and friends. And, for the sake of their sick child, parents and family must put aside their apprehension and focus on being positive.
"The pediatric patient needs to have consistency," said Amy Smith, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Cabell Huntington Hospital. "They need to have their family. They need to have their friends. They need to have the doctors that they know. It’s a very scary time for the patient and the family, so those things that are common in their day-to-day world provide security."
It is estimated that more than 300 pediatric medical patients and 150 pediatric surgical patients leave this area annually for facilities out of state to meet their healthcare needs. When families need to leave the area and seek medical care far away, the difficulties are compounded.
As Dr. Sarah Denman, Chairman of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation, said, "To be able to find state-of-theart, cutting-edge care for a child right here in Huntington, West Virginia is so important because your support system is here – your friends, your extended family, your church – whatever that might be, it’s here. And that’s going to be so important to that healing process – for the child and for the support system for the parents."
Although family support may be crucial to the well being of the child and parents, sometimes the only contact is by telephone. Parents accompanying the sick child are even further removed from the home and family left behind, and anxiety grows. The financial burden of missing even more work because of time and distance increases. And for parents, sometimes keeping a positive attitude while feeling alone and isolated may be nearly impossible.
Beth Sparks, the mother of a baby who received care in Cincinnati, knows the stress of the situation first-hand. "The entire time we were there, we had no income. So, not only were we still paying our mortgage and our bills back here and caring for our two children back here – but we were having to live in Cincinnati and pay for food and travel and all the stuff we needed up there."
"I think the hardest thing for us was the fact we had other children," she said. "They were 2 and 4 years old, and being away from their mother and father the entire time, they didn’t know what was going on. They had prepared themselves to be big brothers – and then the baby doesn’t come home and mom and dad are gone – and you have no family, no anything there [in Cinicinnati] to rely on. For us, being able to be home, if anything, would have been able to help sanity. Financially, it would have been huge. And just for stress – it would have been huge."