Kids Are Taking All the Health Care Jobs

Kids Are Taking All the Health Care Jobs

Let's pop a thermometer into the Florida health care industry, shall we? For starters, here's a recent study that finds that nearly half of the Floridians surveyed admitted to at least one

recession-related health care cutback

. The most common: putting off a health care visit, skipping medical treatment, and not filling a prescription,

And today's New York Times has a story from Lantana that identifies a new, rather disturbing trend in medicine: sick parents and grandparents who rely upon a child to administer basic health care tasks, such as:

lifting frail bodies off beds or toilets, managing medication, washing, feeding, dressing, talking with doctors. Schools, social service agencies and health providers are often unaware of those responsibilities because families members may be too embarrassed, or stoic.

If it's a national trend, South Florida seems to have the dubious distinction of being on the vanguard.

Michael Anderson II, 12, of Boynton Beach, Fla., said, "I don't really talk to people about it." His mother, Iris Santiago, 43, is legally blind, anemic and has depression and hernias. Michael gives B12 injections, helps with medicine and guides her when she walks -- "my seeing-eye boy," she calls him.

Some, like Alyssa Morano, 12, of Lantana, face recalcitrant patients.

Alyssa's grandmother, Willene Black, 59, who adopted Alyssa and her brother, sometimes skips medication for her diabetes, angina, anxiety, and pain from disabling injuries.

"If I find any in the garbage, I take it out," said Alyssa, who shares her grandmother's room and has even helped her put on underwear. "She lays down all the time. I can tell she's getting kind of weaker every day."


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