Easing the Financial Burden of Families

The Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital provides over 650,000 outpatient visits, 17,000 hospital admissions, 10,000 surgeries, and accepts over 1,400 hospital transfers per year. Their website states, “At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, we put kids and families first. Because we understand that children and their parents deserve – and in fact, require – an extra dose of compassion.”

The National Philoptochos Society awarded Cleveland Clinic’s “Caring for Kids – Support for families of children with blood disorders and cancer” program a $20,000 grant at the National Philoptochos Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon on October 12, 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA.

As Alex Calabrese from Cleveland Clinic explains, “The need for the ‘Caring for Kids- Support for families of children with blood disorders and cancer program has always been present, but was recognized and moved into action by a Cleveland Clinic Children's Pediatric Operating Room Service Assistant. One of her dear friends had a child who was hospitalized here at Cleveland Clinic Children's for a blood disorder. Through that experience she realized the added financial burdens that arise with having a child in the hospital, expenses such as parking, child care for siblings, and other day to day needs which add up quite quickly when you are coming to the hospital day after day to be with your child. The idea of the fund is to support the families of these patients and ease some of the hardship that an illness places upon a family. The fund pays for meals, parking and other transportation needs, hotel vouchers, gas cards, etc. It helps hundreds of families who travel far and wide to bring their children to Cleveland Clinic Children's Hematology/Oncology/BMT department that need assistance to pay for hospital stay related out of pocket expenses.”

One of the many things the program helps with is providing parking passes so parents have one last expense to think about when they are making multiple visits per week. As one family stated, “We need to come for at least three appointments a week. There is no way I can come up with that kind of money. The parking passes really help.”  The program offers one less thing that parents must think about so they can focus on their children’s treatment and not on how they are going to pay the bills.

“The financial burden of childhood cancer and the profound emotional stressors that are associated with this diagnosis can stretch families beyond their limits. The economic hardship that this diagnosis brings can have long-term effects on the entire family unit regarding their quality of life. With help from generous donors, such as Philoptochos, our family’s financial burden can be reduced. It truly takes a ‘village’ to help a family in need,” said Denise K. Hagen, MSSA, C-SWHC, LISW-S, from Cleveland Clinic’s Social Work/Care Management Department.

-Vivian Siempos

TeenScreen - Preventing Teen Suicide by Acknowledging Mental Illness in our Youth

The Fourteenth National Philoptochos Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon was held Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel with more than 500 attendees from throughout the United States. The Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon unites supporters nationwide every two years to raise funds for critically ill children. This year, donations totaling $136,900 were presented to thirteen area hospitals and research programs. 

The New Horizons Youth and Family Center’s TeenScreen program in Lancaster, Ohio provides free, school-based mental health screens to local junior high and high school youth. The Children’s Medical Fund grant of $12,000 will subsidize the screening and outpatient treatment of additional children and families who are uninsured or under-insured. Public funding for services such as these has been drastically reduced over the past three years, causing children with severe emotional disturbances to go untreated. The grant will help restore care for many of these children.

Our guest blogger this week is Tony Motta of New Horizons Youth and Family Center. He gives an overview of the startling statistics of teens with mental illness and those who have attempted or thought of suicide and how the TeenScreen program is helping.

TeenScreen provides the opportunity for teens to get a mental health checkup. Similar to a physical check up every year, it is important to make sure children are growing well mentally and are able to handle the challenges and set backs that arise.

TeenScreen is an evidence-based program that is tailored to meet the needs of junior high, high school students and faculty.  TeenScreen is a mental health and suicide risk screening program. 


The goals of the New Horizons TeenScreen program are:
  • To make in-school, voluntary screening services available to junior high and high school students 
  • To follow up with students who test positive, as well as their families, and assist linkage to appropriate care
  • To provide training programs to students, parents, and school staff and increase level of awareness in community

What is the problem?
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for teens and young adults. 
  • 100 adolescents commit suicide each week nationwide. 
  • In Fairfield County, in 2012, 8% of high school students reported they attempted suicide; 11% have made a suicide plan, and 18% seriously considered suicide.
  • Someone who has attempted suicide is eight times more likely to attempt again.
  • Approximately one million teens suffer from depression; only 1/3 get treatment.

How does my child get screened?

The mental health professionals of TeenScreen educate students and staff about mental health, depression, and suicide.  Symptoms of depression, signs of suicide, ways to stay healthy, and ways to get help are among the topics covered when classes receive the program. 

Parent permission forms to participate in the TeenScreen program are sent home with classes that receive the presentation.  However, any student, 12 years of age or older, can be screened by request.

Once parent and student permission are obtained, the student answers questions on a computer for about 10 minutes.  They are asked about their feelings, moods, and behaviors.  The screen focuses on early warning signs of mental illness.  Afterwards, the student meets with a trained mental health professional to discuss the results of the screen. Depending on the outcome, the mental health professional then works with parents to determine the best way to help the student.

TeenScreen Impact

A ninth grade female student had previously refused to go to a counselor, per her parents’ request.  During the screen, the student demonstrated many symptoms of depression and anxiety.  The screen also revealed that these symptoms were drastically impairing her functioning.  She agreed with the screener’s referral for a mental health evaluation.  She informed the screener that she was hesitant to talk to her mother about counseling, due to the stress her mother has recently been under.  The screener contacted the mother, explained the symptoms, and referred the student for a mental health evaluation.  The mother was very receptive to the referral.  She reported to the screener, “This screening happened just at the right time.”  

Through the Signs of Suicide educational program, students are given the opportunity to speak with someone if they have concerns about the mental health of themselves or a friend.  Out of 5 grade levels presented to, 181 students requested to meet.  Many students shared concerns about a friend’s symptoms of depression and/or suicide.  Still others recognized the signs in themselves, as they learned in the presentations, and were asking for help.

A young lady in junior high scored positive for suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts, depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive on the TeenScreen questionnaire.  During the interviewing process, she confided in the counselor she had recently attempted suicide by taking several different types of pills two evenings ago.  The student was thinking about suicide and had a plan.  The counselor contacted the parent immediately and a referral was made.  Two weeks later she told me she believed had she not taken the TeenScreen questionnaire she would no longer be here because she had planned to attempt suicide that evening.  Over the past six months, I have witnessed this young lady blossom into an excelling student both academically and emotionally.  During the last six weeks of school, she was on the honor roll.  This young lady believed that seeing the counselor during the interviewing process of TeenScreen saved her life.