For a couple of months my husband and I have been planning our big trip to Washington DC to advocate for children’s health care. Between the time that we were asked to go and actually making the trip we learned a few staggering facts. More than half of the patients that are treated at Dayton Children’s are recipients of Medicaid. Even though teaching hospitals like Dayton Children’s make up 1% of all hospitals, they educate 30% of the pediatricians from whom our children receive care. We also learned that almost every year, no matter who the president is, funding is cut for children’s hospital graduate medical education (CHGME) and then reinstated by congressional representatives at the urging of advocates like us. Funding for child recipients of Medicaid is also on the line as Medicaid needs to cover more and more adults. These are the items we hoped to encourage our legislators to support.
During our time in Washington DC we attended appointments with Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Mike Turner, Steve Austria, Robert Latta and Jim Jordon. We were also able to finagle a meeting with our Representative and Speaker of the House, John Boehner. All six of these Congressmen listened to our story and why access to children’s health care matters to our family and other families that we know. This is an issue that crosses party lines and hopefully can be supported across party lines for the sake of all. Often we hear that children are the future of the country. However, children are the country now and how adults support, nurture and care for the children in our midst will impact our nation’s future.
So, two pastors from southwest Ohio took their nine-month-old daughter to Washington DC. We were humbled to be asked to represent the hospital that helped us out so much when our little girl was just two days old. We were even more humbled to share our story with people that make such a difference for Ohioans. We can only hope now that our story made a difference and a positive impact to help other children who need specialized care just like our Amelia. At the end of it all, we keep asking ourselves, “What just happened?” Did we really just go to Washington? Did we really just meet with representatives that listened to us and supported the same cause? It’s hard for us to believe. But it wasn’t just us and it wasn’t just Dayton Children’s. Nearly thirty other hospitals and families were there, too: families with more heartbreaking stories than ours, families that had to make emergency visits to the hospital in Washington, families that seemed completely normal trying to make it to the next step in their children’s development without them being just sick kids.
We can only hope that our efforts make a difference for our little girl and many other little ones.