Program taking away choice between your health and kids' safety? - | WBTV Charlotte

Program taking away choice between your health and kids' safety?


Many moms have a long to do list, and they always come last. A medical emergency should force mothers to put themselves at the top of that list. But if parents don't have childcare, often they're willing to suffer. 

This month a new program can provide emergency child care in these desperate medical situations.

For many parents, their children come first.

"I wasn't going to get that surgery if it meant me separating from my kids and them going into foster care," said Kewanna Jones, "It was not an option. I wasn't going to do it."

Kewanna Jones had to have cancer-related surgery two years ago, but she was homeless and the kids couldn't stay at the shelter without her.

"I'm a mom, I got to think about my kids first," said Jones.

"Thinking of your children means you have to think of your health care," said Ashley McGurkin.

At Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Ashley McGurkin is a clinical social worker.

"We have seen an increase number of patients who have childcare issues that leave against medical advice from the hospital because they don't want a report to be made to social services," said McGurkin.

McGurkin helped Jones but wanted to establish a network to help other women like Jones.

"If they need medical attention that's going to require an overnight stay the children have the option of being able to go safely into a respite home while the care giver gets the medical care that they need," said McGurkin.

That respite care program is called NeighborCare.  It launched in Charlotte the first of October. It includes two hospitals, Carolina's Medical Center and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.

There are also five agencies, Children's Home Society, Salvation Army Center of Hope Women and Children's Shelter, Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Alexander Youth Network and the lead agency the Relatives.

"If it wasn't for them I would still be hurting till this day," said Deidre Andrews.

Andrews isn't homeless, but she still needed help as a single mom of six kids when she was sick for two years.  Even though she was passing out and her kids' school counselors were checking on her she rested medical care.

"And I was afraid that DSS would come in and take my children," said Andrews.

The director at Relatives, Brennon Graham, said they have nine beds as part of NeighborCare.

"So now that there's a formalized process and a resource for families things are just going to work out," said Graham.

"I don't want anybody else to go through that," said Jones, "So, I'm glad they got this program."

With NeighborCare the hope is parents can parent in good health.

NeighborCare comes without a charge to the patient.  A grant will fund the services provided by the different community agencies. It was made possible from The Community Care Fund with The Foundation for the Carolinas, The Leon Levine Foundation, Carolinas Healthcare System, Novant Health Presbyterian Hospital, and Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services.

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