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Assistant Executive Director Rhiannon Edwards
Assistant Executive Director Rhiannon Edwards

Philanthropic Business of the Year Finalist: Children's Miracle Network

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When Sheri Reaves’ son needed an insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar, Children’s Miracle Network was a welcome source of relief.

“From the minute I walked in the door, I could tell it was different,” Reaves says. “They welcomed you with open arms. They didn’t make you feel bad because you were there to ask for help.”

For 25 years, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of CoxHealth has helped Ozarks children with special needs through medical and educational services.

CoxHealth covers all administrative costs, allowing 100 percent of Children’s Miracle Network funds to go directly to children in need.

“The hospital has always been founded on this philanthropic mission, and it’s always been a huge part of the hospital’s history,” says local CMN Executive Director Heather Zoromski, noting that CoxHealth employees are key CMN supporters.

“They’re our biggest volunteer base,” she adds. “We send out an e-mail asking for volunteers and they’re the first ones to sign up.”

In 2010, CMN raised $1.37 million, enough to help more than 100,000 kids during a year, Zoromski says.

CMN provides up to $800 a year per child through its Special Needs Fund for medical equipment, such as hearing aids and insulin pumps, and financial assistance for families who have to travel to get treatment for their children. The organization also pays up to $6,000 a year for medical and therapy bills, Zoromski says.

“We feel when your child is met with medical challenges, the last thing you need to worry about is how they’re going to get that treatment,” she says. “We do have a lot of families that will say that they have to choose between buying groceries that week and buying their child’s medication, and I don’t think that should have to be a choice.”

The 26th annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Telethon, held June 4–5, raised more than $1.4 million to benefit local sick and injured children, according to www.coxhealth.com/cmn. Looking beyond monthly income, CMN considers family size and assesses each family that applies for help on a case-by-case basis.

“We do have a list of financial qualifiers that we base it initially off of, but we also try to look at the whole picture,” Zoromski says. “Is the child going to need long-term care (and) what’s going on with the family as a whole?”

About half of the children served by CMN are uninsured.

“In this day and age when we have so many uninsured families who are afraid to even go seek medical care because of what it’s going to cost, a lot of times they wait,” she says. “It’s really unfortunate that they have to make those choices, but if we can help take some of that financial burden off of them then we try to help out in any way that we can.”

One of the most visible aspects of Children’s Miracle Network is the CARE Mobile, a medical unit on wheels that provides basic health services to kids from low-income families. CARE Mobile services are available in all 32 counties served by the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of CoxHealth.

CMN also funds the Child Life Program, which acts as a liaison between hospitalized children and medical staff to ensure positive hospital stays for more than 14,000 children a year. Reaves says CMN also offers invaluable emotional support.

“(CMN is) someone who’s there when you need a shoulder to cry on,” she says.
“You go in the office, and they always ask how things are going, and they care and they’re concerned – and they genuinely and truly love the kids they help.”

From the 2011 Economic Impact Awards publication
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