Uninsured Children at School
Ten-year old Jack appeared at the school nurse’s office with a complaint of “being sick.” His teacher indicated that Jack was a new student of just over 2 weeks and had been having some trouble adjusting as well as not paying attention in class. The nurse noticed that Jack did not have a jacket on, despite the cold weather, and was rather quiet and unable to make eye contact with the nurse. He had no objective symptoms of illness. In addition, the nurse saw that there was no contact number for Jack’s parents. Jack rested for the rest of the afternoon, and his older sister tracked him down at the end of the day. She mentioned that they had just moved to the town with their grandparents, and led Jack out of the nurse’s office.
The next week, Jack appeared again at the nurse’s office early in the morning, without a jacket or long pants. The nurse offered Jack a coat from her supply, along with a long pair of pants for the day, and breakfast. At the end of the day, the nurse joined Jack and his sister for the walk home. Their neighborhood was on the outskirts of an urban area, but walkable from the small elementary school. The nurse discovered that Jack’s grandparents had moved to the new town with the promise of jobs that did not materialize. Consequently, the family of four was living in a tent trailer without sufficient food, heat, and the needed medication that Jack took for his attention disorder. The entire family was without health insurance.
The nurse prioritized healthcare and safety; she assisted the family with housing resources, a social worker, and eligibility applications for health care for the children. Jack’s grandparents did not think the children would be eligible for health insurance as the family owned their tent trailer and had a small pension and savings account as well. In addition, as they were new to the community, they were unaware of where to seek help.
Jack and his family were able to take advantage of the school-based health center for their healthcare needs on a sliding scale basis as their eligibility application for SCHIP was in process. The grandparents continued to apply for jobs, still surprised that their luck could change so abruptly with their relocation to a new town leaving them without resources for their grandchildren.
KeywordsSchool Nurse Middle Income Family Uninsured Child Chief State School Officer Eligibility Application
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