Health Care Issues in Homeless Children – Nov 2009

While at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, I was fortunate to complete a 4 week elective at Johns Hopkins University. The elective introduced me to my friend Nancy Newman and The Ark Preschool – the only state accredited preschool for homeless children in Baltimore City.

This is where I learned the intimate connection between housing and health and why children with unstable housing are uniquely vulnerable to negative health outcomes including poor nutrition, developmental delay, obesity, anemia, and under-immunization that places them at risk for infectious diseases. This article describes my experiences.

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Best Things Ever

Sometimes in medicine we work 24 hour shifts. This is called “call.” Your day goes something like this, you show up to work at, say…6:30am, take care of patients, take care of patients, eat, take care of patients, take care of patients, eat some more, (you also write a lot of orders, talk to families, document your work, etc…but for simplicity sake, I am generalizing all that into “take care of patients,” …you get the idea) and leave at say…7:30am the next day (or sometimes later, these shifts can go for 30 hours in some cases!). If not carefully managed, this sleep deprivation trap can be a source of sadness and even bitterness in a certain young professional’s (read my) life.

I was in one of these sticky situations this past Saturday. It was a particularly busy call in which, after missing breakfast, I didn’t get lunch until 2pm and was too busy to make it to the cafeteria for dinner. Normally, this can be the source of silent tears in the bathroom and a distraught call to my mom following my shift (this boat needs fuel…know what I mean?). But now, a seasoned 3rd year, I have learned what it takes to make it thru stressful days. You have to find the good parts of the day and obsess over them. That brings me to the best. things. ever. This is what got me thru my latest shift and what I hope brings you some joy as well.

IMG_0906Honey Roasted Almonds – These treats are just sweet enough to make you smile and healthy enough to make you feel good about yourself – double bonus!

soupHomemade Butternut Squash Soup – Since I missed dinner at the cafe, my lovely partner brought me this yummy soup AND he made it from scratch! (well not this soup…this is my girl Ina’s soup)

IMG_0902Spontaneous Post-Call Breakfast – Pancakes and chilaquiles at the height of your sleep deprived delirium is just what the doctor ordered! (My partner made me this too! He’s the best!)

IMG_0903Hydrangeas Waiting for me at Home – I don’t have pets, I buy flowers. And I couldn’t wait to get home and relax with this lil baby!

Being grateful does something to our heart that makes us a little bit stronger to face the day’s challenges. Here’s to getting our gratitude on this week!