IN 2007 the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) called for a 75% increase in the number of pediatric rheumatologists. An estimated 300,000 children suffer from Juvenile Arthritis in one form or another yet there are fewer than 200 board certified pediatric rheumatologists in this country. Juvenile Arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses in children and if left untreated, or mistreated, can lead to severe disability. According to this 2007 HRSA report, 13 states do not currently have a certified practicing pediatric rheumatologist. This means that on average, children and their families will need to travel an estimated 57 miles to the nearest pediatric rheumatologist. I don't know, looking at that map, it looks like a lot farther than 57 miles for most families. When we lived in Maine we were traveling approximately 41 miles to see the one and only rheumatologist in the state that would treat children. He however was NOT a pediatric rheumatologist. To get to the nearest pediatric rheumatologist, it would have been more like 143 miles across 3 states. Considering the frequency of the appointments and the fact that my daughter can't be in a car for more than 20 minutes before her legs hurt, this wasn't acceptable. So, we up and moved. We moved from Maine to NC. When we first got here Bean was being seen at Duke Children's in Durham. FANTASTIC hospital with amazing doctors. However, that was still a 125 mile trip. EACH WAY. Way too much for Bean. And for ME to be driving that! So we switched to Brenner's Children's, which is part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Still a fantastic place and we love her doctor. Still a 60 mile drive but it's doable. Ideally I would love for us to have a specialist right here in Mooresville. Ideally I would like lots of things. But I think you get my point here. 200 doctors for 300,000 children?? That's not acceptable. I am not even going to get into comparing the ratios of other childhood illnesses and their needed specialists. Because honestly do we want any other parent and their child to suffer and struggle like we do? No, of course not. So, what can we do? Let our voices be heard. Tell your local Congressman (or woman) about these 300,000 kids. Do they even know?? Probably not! Tell them about our day to day struggles. Tell them about our need for more specialists. If you can, plan on attending the 2011 Advocacy Summit. Ultimately I dream of a cure so that no child should suffer. But until that day comes, we need more trained and certified specialists to care for our kids.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This Just Isn't Acceptable
The map to the left is clearly a map of the United States. The red colored areas are where you can find a pediatric rheumatologist. The yellow colored areas are where you can find a rheumatologist that will treat children. Speaking from personal experience. Do NOT take your child to anything other than a board certified pediatric rheumatologist. A rheumatologist trained to treat adults is not necessarily trained to treat children and YES there IS a difference! So, that all being said, are you seeing a problem with this map?