Growing up ahead of time

Eric Felner
After Medicaid coverage ended for the young diabetes patient, people at Emory, including diabetes specialist Eric Felner, pictured here with other patients, helped pick up the slack, providing care and testing supplies and helping secure donated insulin.


 

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Pediatric endocrinologist Eric Felner and nurse educator Jane McCurdy have watched Aldin grow from a 9-year-old, newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, to a teenager who has taken on adult-sized responsibilities.

When an aggressive cancer took his father in a matter of months, Aldin, then barely 13, declared himself man of the house. He earned babysitting money and began helping his mother manage the household. For his little brother, he became the homework consultant and encouraging voice at soccer games. And he has become an expert on his own medical condition. “If all of our young diabetes patients were as knowledgeable and attentive as Aldin,” says McCurdy, “Dr. Felner’s and my jobs would be much easier.”

In turn, they do everything they can to make Aldin’s life easier. Aldin’s father’s unexpected death erased not only the family’s savings and income but also its health insurance. Aldin was placed on Medicaid, but that ended when he turned 19 earlier this year. On paper, he’s eligible for funds from Children’s Medical Services until he’s 21, but the county he lives in has run out of such money, with delays in funding expected to last as long as a year. 

Felner and McCurdy have encouraged Aldin to keep up with his studies in a local community college and let them worry about making sure he gets the care he needs. Felner continues to see him regularly, sending his blood for the same lab work as he has always done. Aldin continues to email his four-times-daily blood sugar readings to McCurdy and often calls her for advice on adjusting his insulin levels. She arranged for pharmaceutical companies to provide insulin without charge, and Emory gives him needles, strips, and other testing supplies. When Aldin turns 21, they will help him make the transition to adult care—but in terms of being an adult, he’s already there.

   
   
 
 

More than 1.3 million children in Georgia either participate in the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (in Georgia, called PeachCare) or receive Medicaid coverage. But almost 10% of Georgia’s children have no type of health coverage whatsoever. This is where Emory pediatricians help serve a vital role as part of the safety net to get Georgia’s children the care they need. Emory offers pediatric care in collaboration with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as high-risk perinatal and neonatal care at Emory University Hospital Midtown and at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

 





     
 

Emory pediatricians provide care in the following venues:

Emory-Children’s Center (outpatient)
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (inpatient)

■  Children’s at Egleston, 255 beds, Emory campus, staffed by Emory and community physicians, with Emory providing 80% of care

■  Children’s at Hughes Spalding, 24 beds, Grady campus, staffed by Emory, Morehouse, and community physicians, with Emory providing 66% of care

■  Some Emory pediatric faculty also teach and have admitting privileges at Children’s at Scottish Rite, 250 beds

 
     

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Community Benefits Report Cover 2012