United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Accessible, high-quality children’s health care “a blessing”

Your help makes quality care available to children like Wraylonta’s. “We would not have been able to open the new office in Plano without the money from United Way,” says Dr. Ray Tsai, medical director for MyChildren’s.

Wraylonta, a single mother of four with limited financial means, found quality health care for her children because of the investments of United Way supporters. Her children are active, healthy and best prepared for long, rewarding lives.

When you can’t afford private health care for your children, family worries outweigh most other things.

But for thousands of North Texas parents, like Wraylonta, those concerns are alleviated thanks to MyChildren’s, a Children’s Medical Center initiative partially funded by United Way that increases access to health care for underserved children by providing cost-effective, community-based primary and preventive health care.

“When someone treats your children as their own, what else could you want?” asks Wraylonta.

As a divorced parent of four who works part time, Wraylonta found it difficult, often frustrating, finding quality health care that accepted the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“I would always hear ‘Oh, we don’t accept that,’” she recalls. “But MyChildren’s accepts Medicaid and CHIP. To know they’re willing to accept it and you’ll receive excellent health care is a true blessing.”

From 2011 to 2013, United Way volunteers invested $2.1 million in Children’s Medical Center, enabling the expansion of the MyChildren’s primary care network. In 2012, MyChildren’s opened a new location in east Plano that “we would not have been able to open without the money from United Way,” says Dr. Ray Tsai, medical director for MyChildren’s.

In addition to program expansion, United Way funding has “raised the visibility of the MyChildren’s network and given us credibility with other donors in the community,” says J. Peter Kline, president of the Children’s Medical Center Foundation.

The real winners are the more than 32,000 North Texas kids, ages 18 and younger, on CHIP and Medicaid who now have a medical home for their primary care, Dr. Tsai says.

“This year, we will serve this community with 85,000 patient visits,” he says. “We really depend on community support like that from United Way to expand our reach and services.”

Kline echoes Dr. Tsai, adding that a continued partnership with United Way will help MyChildren’s provide a medical home by year 2020 for more than 100,000 local children who otherwise would not have access to regular primary care.

Ensuring children get the regular checkups and immunizations they need is a critical part of preventing more costly health problems in the future.

“We know families will go to the ER to have their needs met, but an ER doesn’t do well-child checkups,” Dr. Tsai says. “Our goal is provide a medical care where it’s comprehensive and we can review everything about the child — vaccine records, developmental records. If children go without those, developmental issues may be missed.”

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