Out of State, Out of Mind
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Most area healthcare professionals are familiar with the work of Make-A-Wish South Dakota, the organization that supports children with life-threatening illness and their families by granting smile-inducing “wishes” - everything from trips and celebrity meet-ups to room makeovers and other adventures.
Make-A-Wish South Dakota grants about 60 such wishes a year and has granted more than 1,200 since its inception in 1984.
And yet, according to President and CEO Paul Krueger, too many potential wish kids may still be slipping through the cracks, losing out on the boost a wish can provide to them and their families in the midst of challenging circumstances.
“Our vision is not to miss any child who may quality for a wish,” says Krueger. “But one thing we are finding is that when children, either because of the severity of their condition or the treatment process, end up being referred out of state, they may never be referred to Make-A-Wish.”
Make-A-Wish referrals come from a variety of sources within healthcare including social workers, advanced practice providers, doctors, nurses and child life specialists. Parents or other family members can also refer a wish kid, along with the kids themselves.
“Ultimately, though, it is the physician that will help us determine if a particular child qualifies,” says Krueger who works with four medical advisors across the state when there is a question about a child’s qualification for the program.
But the entire process has to start with a referral. Krueger says once a child is sent to an out-of-state institution for care, it can be “out of sight, out of mind”.
“Sometimes, a child may be in and out of here so quickly, that the provider may not even think about Make-A-Wish. But Mayo Clinic and Denver Children’s Hospital are much bigger institutions. It’s much easier for a child to be passed over there,” says Krueger.
Krueger says the answer to the problem lies in awareness. Doctors can refer any child between two-and-a-half and 18 with a life-threatening - progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition, even if the child is on his way out or has left the region for treatment. Once parents have given consent for referral, Make-A-Wish can go through the process to determine if the child qualifies.
“It really doesn’t hurt to go through the process, even if a child does not end up qualifying,” says Krueger. “We would love to have every medical clinic and hospital in the state making this a part of the process when they initially give parents and kids information about their illness.”
To that end, Make-A-Wish has launched a quarterly eNewsletter for referral sources. To get on the mailing list, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a Referral:
Make-A-Wish has made the referral process as easy and efficient for busy healthcare professionals as possible. To get information or to make a referral visit MD.wish.org or call the SD office at 605-335-8000.