Let’s face it, parenting is hard work. The responsibility of caring for another human can be one of the toughest yet most rewarding experiences a person will face in their lifetime, and Denver resident, Sara Nikkel, does it with grace. Like nearly 20 percent of American parents, Sara is a stay-at-home mother who has devoted every hour of each day to raising her beautiful boys: 6-year-old, Emmett, and 3-year-old, Dorian.
Sara enthusiastically manages a unique home life as both of her children have special needs. Though Emmett has autism and Dorian battles a degenerative eye disorder, Sara proudly shares that both have adapted very well.
“Both children are excellent products of early intervention and therapy,” notes Sara. “Our family has committed to developmental therapies and parenting outside the box. We see opportunities for both to have a good childhood, grow and blossom while we coordinate the care. We want them to have every possible normal childhood experience.”
Sara adds, “I’m a stay-at-home mother. Their journey to be happy in their own skin is my job.”
She and her children are succeeding. As a person with high-functioning autism, Emmett can communicate clearly and he shares the highly intelligent attributes of many with autism. Dorian, with a rare, progressive genetic retinal mutation, possesses excellent functional vision with the help of special glasses.
“Hopefully, he will retain enough sight to live a perfectly normal life,” Sara says, adding that he currently receives additional support by attending a special school for the blind and deaf in the Denver area.
“Both boys do anything any other child can do,” she adds.
Despite the day-to-day struggles, Sara is grateful: “We’re so lucky to have the resources we have. We found a lovely physician about 30 minutes away. I don’t view us as a family with dramatic special circumstances. Our path is a little different. The kids may have to work harder day-to-day. But, everything is possible even if there is a delayed course. We’ve grown into it.”
Sara points out that she spends much more time coordinating care than typical families. She says, “I can definitely count on 10 hours a month in doctors’ offices, calling doctors, dealing with insurance and addressing special needs issues—such as determining the openness of a camp to a high-functioning autistic.”
With the time commitment involved in managing this level of care, Sara is grateful for the convenience and timeliness of house calls. “We researched and found DispatchHealth more than three years ago. We wanted to avoid lengthy trips to the pediatrician or ER, where we would have to stay for hours. It made a world of difference day-to-day to see medical providers in our home.”
A poignant first experience cemented her loyalty. “The first time was a bout of mastitis while breastfeeding. It was terrible, requires antibiotics, and can end up with a trip to the ER in some cases. I needed to be confident they would take care of me properly. I was treated in the privacy of my own home with a quick diagnosis and prescribing of antibiotics on the spot. Otherwise, I would have been in the ER or urgent care. It gave me peace of mind.”
Emphasizing that they’ve become “frequent fliers,” Sara says they’ve called DispatchHealth many times when they couldn’t arrange a pediatrician visit on the same day, or have had to pick up kids at school because of illness. Sara notes, “It’s been well above 10 times. They came out within a couple hours one Christmas Eve, administered breathing treatments, rapid strep tests, etc. It was an amazing experience.”
She adds, “Can you imagine spending Christmas Eve in the ER? They made sure we were triaged. DispatchHealth has become my first line behind a physician visit. In fact, physicians have started encouraging us to connect with DispatchHealth.”
The difference, according to Sara, is the time spent going to urgent care or the ER and spending four hours versus making a call and letting your child rest comfortably while waiting for a team to arrive at home. “What peace of mind!” she says pointedly.
Sara compliments the “excellent bedside manner” of the medical teams: “They’re so good with the children. Several times when all family members have been sick, there has been no struggle to treat everyone.”
She points out that the team is knowledgeable, personable and professional. “I’ve never felt rushed. I’m really comfortable in their care.”
Further contributing to bedside manner is a predictable and affordable pricing structure. Notes Sara, “They take my insurance. I just pay an urgent care copay. In contrast, the financial impact of the ER is something you want to avoid. You get all this, and they come to your house.”
The Support System
The beauty of healthcare can be found in the ability to support people and families during times of need. For DispatchHealth, providing care to patients while they are at peace in the safest place they know only magnifies that reward. For two little boys who have already faced far more inconvenience than they deserve, it’s important that their family has avenues to reach long term health.
As Emmett and Dorian walk through life with a few extra obstacles along the way, their mother will continue to guide their journey towards happiness and loving the skin that they’re in.