PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Kobi Foreman is fidgety and uncomfortable in his hospital room. The four-year-old boy is on medication that makes him restless and has spent the last two days at Children’s Medical Center at Legacy in Plano with his mother, trying to recover from yet another bout of asthma.
Kobi is one of many children who come to this hospital to be treated for the potentially fatal chronic illness and he exemplifies the hospital’s latest study of its patients.
Children’s Medical Center released it’s annual report called “Beyond A B C” today and this year researchers evaluated the five counties north of Dallas: Collin, Cooke, Denton, Fannin and Grayson counties.
Researchers found that in this region, which is one of the fastest growing areas of the country, forty-percent of children who live in those five counties either have no insurance or have limited coverage with access to Medicaid or CHIP, Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The report says many of the chronic illnesses that patients are treated for in those counties are related to obesity, asthma, mental illness and developmental disabilities.
“The challenge and the opportunity for us is we have a population base in these northern five counties that’s growing far faster than the national average” says Christopher Durovich, the CEO of Children’s Medical Center. “We need to be mindful of the fact, even though we think of these as homogeneous, affluent cities, in fact there’s a great deal of variation among them” Durovich says.
Debbie Sousa of Frisco is a single mom with two teenagers. Sousa, who does not have health insurance, recently took her daughter to the doctor. “It’s very frustrating. We waited a few days to see if it would get better on its own, when normally we would have gone to the doctor a little earlier.”
Their doctor visit was $120, plus $50 for a prescription, all of it an out of pocket expense.
Debbie and Durovich both say economics plays a major role in a lack of coverage.
“Poverty is a big piece of the issue. One in eight kids in Collin and Denton County lives in poverty. One in five kids in Fannin, Cook and Grayson County lives in poverty” says Durovich.
The report shows that child poverty in Collin County alone has increased nearly 25 percent since 2000.
Dr. Timothy Bray with the University of Texas at Dallas led the study. He says the 160,000 children in the five counties who are uninsured or have limited medical insurance represent a population that doesn’t always have access to quality health care.
“It means if you took them to Cowboys Stadium, they would fill it up one-and-a-half times. That’s a lot of kids” says Bray. “This is not a one-off problem” he says. “This is a systematic issue that’s associated with a number of trends that are facing North Texas and what this report allows us to do is to get out in front of those issues.”
Hospital officials say the study is intended to build awareness and create dialogue both among medical professionals and the public. They hope non-profit organizations and other interested individuals will come together to address the problems.