Beyond COVID-19, children living with diabetes need support to maintain their health and wellness
By Tami Balavage, co-founder of Help a Diabetic Child Foundation
While the COVID-19 pandemic dominates the headlines, the economic impact of layoffs and furloughs will certainly have additional impacts on a generation of children living with diabetes.
34.2 million Americans – just over one in 10 – have diabetes. With the average annual cost of diabetes-related medical expenses being $9,601 – more than $800 per month – families who were living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to care for their children. And, for those who can’t afford regular wellness care and treatment, the devasting effects can last a lifetime.
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar, or glucose, to enter cells to produce energy. Insulin, unlike other drugs, has no generic alternative. In one year, a child with type 1 diabetes will require a minimum of 1,460 injections of insulin, the cost of which has tripled during the past decade.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition where the bodydoes not process insulin effectively, causing glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream. Without proper on going management, individuals with diabetes will face amputations, eye disease, nerve damage, end-stage kidney disease and death. In addition to the challenge of glucose testing and administering insulin,parents must also worry about the devastating life-long financial impact of diabetes for their children. In the US $1 of every $7 spent on healthcare is diabetes related.
Help a Diabetic Child (HADC) was founded with a belief that all people diagnosed with diabetes deserve the supplies they need to manage their disease. However, HADC does much more than purchasing the essential testing and treatment supplies and services for hundreds of children and students each year. HADC has expanded its programmatic scope to include services such as coverage of doctor visits as well as emotional support.
Among our precious clients is a local 7-year-old girl who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was hospitalized and would not be released into her parents’ care, until they purchased $1,500 worth of medical supplies fortheir home, which HADC was able to provide them. But it was not just a one-time expense, monthly insulin and glucose testing strips were expected to add an extra $1,000 per month to the family’s budget. Without support from HADC, this little girl may not have received the critical supplies she needed to growinto a healthy young adult.
Since we launchedHADC, the organization has purchased hundreds of thousands of glucose test strips, lancets, meters, syringes, pen needles, and other diabetes supplies along with tens of thousands of units of insulin and glucagon pens for children and young adults. These life-saving medical supplies are critical for families in financial need.
With the need for diabetic supplies growing, HADC is preparing to serve 700 children in fiscal year 2020 and 1,000 children in fiscal year 2021. Our vision is to continue to expand nationally to help families who can’t afford diabetes supplies for their children. This goal becomes increasingly important as new cases of diabetes rise and the cost of insulin and supplies escalates.
The HADC team and Board of Directors are working tirelessly to raise the funds necessary for families in financial distress to obtain these life sustaining items and services.With the generous funding from private donations and grants through partners such as the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, HADC is able to continue our mission to ensure no child is placed in danger because of their inability to pay for diabetes supplies.
For more information, visit www.HelpaDiabeticChild.org.
As featured in the Collier Citizen