But all is not lost! Financial assistance may still be available in unexpected places. Here are a few places to begin the search.
Hospital Social Workers
If a child is receiving treatment in a children’s hospital, the social worker or nurse will probably provide information about lodging, meal vouchers, laundry facilities, and perhaps even travel assistance. If that doesn’t happen, call the switchboard and ask to be connected to a social worker.
If your child has an orthopedic condition and is 18 or younger, a Shriner’s Hospital may pay for the entire treatment. To learn more, visit their website at www.shrinershq.org.
Free or Inexpensive Lodging
Several organizations such as Ronald McDonald Houses, the National Association of Hospitality Houses, and the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation provide free or inexpensive lodging for parents of hospitalized children. Also, most children’s hospitals allow at least one parent to sleep in the room with a child. And if you have friends or family in the area, you might be able to stay with them.
Many hospitals give parents a cafeteria discount. Ronald McDonald Houses provide kitchen access and stock the cupboard with food for families. Friends may be willing to supply meals when the hospitalization is close to home or send gift cards if it’s not. And if paying for meals becomes a hardship, confide in the hospital social worker, chaplain, or your local spiritual leader. They may be aware of meal voucher programs.
The hospital social worker may be able to connect parents to organizations that provide gas cards, as well as free or reduced air travel. Some airlines offer assistance, so call to inquire about them. Or contact the National Patient Travel Center for more information.
State and national organizations specific to a child’s medical needs may offer financial assistance, as do larger umbrella organizations like the March of Dimes, Easter Seals, and Variety Clubs. Local service organizations such as Jaycees, Elks, Rotary, and Kiwanas may provide funds, too.
More information about dealing with medical expenses can be found in the article 7 Medical Bill Management Tips for Special Needs Families.