Mis Angeles, My Angels

I was sitting at my desk one day when my mentor Lesley ran to my computer and said, “Hey, can you come talk to this man for me? He is here about KidCare but he speaks Spanish.” KidCare is health insurance offered by the state of Florida to children who are eighteen and younger. In my head, I was thinking… “Oh jeeze, here we go. What if I mess up? What if he can’t understand me?” But without letting on how nervous I was, I got up and followed Lesley out to the front door. The man’s name was Miguel, and he was just as anxious as me. He and his five year old son Juan were patiently waiting by the door to hear their fate in regards to their KidCare application. I welcomed Miguel to The PLAYERS Center and explained to him that we enhance child health and wellness through education, advocating for health access for children, and childhood injury prevention.

Miguel, Juan, and I went into the conference room to start discussing his KidCare application. When Miguel started speaking, I felt as though he was speaking one million miles per minute. I took a breath and really tried to understand what he was saying to me. After listening to his story, I found out that he had just gained full custody of his son and had applied for Medicaid four times before coming to see me. He said, “I did everything they told me to do. If they needed a form, I filled it out. If they needed my passport, I brought it to them. I don’t understand why I keep getting denied. My son is a native born citizen. I only want to do what is best for him.” My heart began to melt the more Miguel went on about Juan. I told Miguel, “Lo siento señor, pero me español no es muy bien” (I’m sorry sir, but my Spanish isn’t very good). I thought Miguel was going to be frustrated that I couldn’t understand everything he was saying, but instead, he used the best English that he knew and tried to tell me more details about his past applications.

During the months  he spent struggling with his KidCare application, Miguel was unable to take his little boy to the doctor to get his shots. I immediately called Lesley, and I asked her what else we could do to help him. Before I knew it, Lesley was calling various states and numbers to try and get a hold of Juan’s vaccination records. When we finally obtained them, Lesley called the St. Vincent’s Mobile Unit to see if they could give Juan his remaining shots.

Miguel looked at us with so much appreciation in his eyes and kept saying, “You ladies are my angels. Do you use your angel wings to fly home at night? I really can’t even begin to thank you enough for everything you are doing!”

As soon as Miguel and Juan left, I went to my desk and entered his application. After days of calling Medicaid, faxing Medicaid his documents, and talking to Miguel on the phone, Juan was finally enrolled into Medicaid. I called Miguel with the news as soon as I could. Never had I heard someone who was so extremely appreciative and grateful. He was so grateful that he became speechless. He kept calling me an angel, and all I could say was, “You’re welcome. It was my pleasure. I’m just so happy that Juan can see a pediatrician for his checkups.”

If someone had approached me last March and asked me what I would be doing with my post-graduate life, I would not have said serving as a member of the National Health Corps Florida-AmeriCorps. I also would have never pictured myself sitting behind a desk filling out Medicaid applications for most of the day, but after meeting Miguel and Juan my position at the PLAYERS Center has definitely been put into perspective. I’ve seen first hand how impactful my service really is for the families that need it most. Whenever I feel that filling out applications is becoming tedious and uneventful, I think back to Miguel and how grateful he was to hear that I was able to help Juan gain health insurance.

Since that day, Juan has gotten all of his shots and has even stopped by the Center for a visit with his dad to thank us in person again. He truly is the exact definition as to why I love going to service every day.

This blog post was written by NHC Florida member, Noel Saraceno.

Care Coordinator.