The National Council of Welfare states that 1.4 Million Canadian children lived in poverty between 2002 and 2009. A person living in poverty is less likely to have the necessities of life. They lack nutrition, medicine and proper housing. And that means parents are often going with much less nutrition than the children, because they give what they have to their loved ones. People living in poverty also tend to have more health complications- because they are unable to get the necessities of life.
Why aren’t hospitals, health clinics and doctors offices equipped to help with this problem? Nutrition, heat, shelter, and medicine are all health issues. Yet the two issues are kept so far apart when looking for solutions.
Why don’t doctors have the ability to write prescriptions for the necessities of life…that can be filled without cost to the under nourished patients and families. Instead of telling starving families that are waiting with a patient that “the food is just for patients” or “No you can’t have a juice there is a cafeteria down the hall” – Do we ever ask when the last time the mother ate? or if she can afford a $3.00 apple juice to keep up her strength.
I think hospitals should have a room filled with NICE kits (Necessary Items for Continued Existence) that we get donated. With soya milk and juice and some healthy food. An emergency blanket or other necessities that will make more of a difference than an iv bag full of fluids and a prescription for “Boost” or “Ensure” that the patient will never fill because they can’t afford it. Or at least give them ones that are never opened and are getting thrown away each day because they sat on a patients tray.
There are thousands of people who walk through the hospital doors each and every week to visit, receive care or attend work. I believe that one room to store the items and an education campaign asking for small donations could provide nutrition and comfort to families that cannot or would not use food banks or other options to get these needs met. I bet we could find company and corporate donations to make NICE kits for patients who are truly in need.
We can do so much more to change the lives of our patients, our community, our country, our world- if we aren’t scared to do our part, search for solutions and find ways to bring them to successful reality. We can truly be of value to those around us when we are giving them a better life rather than just a better hospital visit.