As many of our patient families know, caring for a child with a serious medical condition can be a full-time job, to say the least. And often it means having to take unpaid time off work or even a complete job loss, further compounding stress on the entire family.
Longtime Phoenix Children’s Hospital supporters Paul and Flo Eckstein wanted to help families who struggle with expenses due to a child’s illness. Flo, a former social worker, knows just how stressful it is for a family when a child is in the hospital. In 2021, the couple established the Eckstein Family Support Fund, which provides assistance to Phoenix Children’s families dealing with financial hardship during a child’s hospital stay.
Providing assistance that reduces stress
“Children are very adept at picking up when their parents are worried, and that interferes in their healing process,” says Rhonda Baldwin, social services manager at Phoenix Children’s. “It is our experience that if we can remove financial stressors for families, then they are able to focus their emotional attention on their child rather than worrying about how to pay the bills.”
When setting up the fund, the Ecksteins expressed the importance of flexibility. The fund provides families in need up to $1,500 annually to assist with childcare for siblings, housing, utilities, food and more—whatever is needed. Anyone experiencing financial hardship as a result of their child’s admission qualifies for assistance. The fund does not use income limits, because each family’s circumstances are different. Instead, Paul and Flo have put their faith in Phoenix Children’s social workers to determine which families would most benefit from financial aid.
“We are confident Phoenix Children’s skilled, professional social workers provide needed emotional and material support to enable families to care for their children through a medical crisis,” Flo says. “Any assistance parents get ultimately benefits the child being treated.”
Finding purpose through service
Paul, whose father was a physician, says he and his wife are grateful to be able to support an organization like Phoenix Children’s. “I joined the Phoenix Children’s board in 1983 shortly after it was founded and served for 25 years,” he says. “Anyone who has ever had a child or grandchild in a children’s hospital knows how important it is to have a hospital that understands and caters to the needs of children. When you see what can be done, you just want to get involved.” Paul even served as board president for two years in the mid-1990s.
For other families looking to create a lasting legacy, Paul and Flo are happy that their efforts are providing inspiration. “Being connected to Phoenix Children’s all these years,” says Paul, “has been both an honor and joy, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity. I take great pride in what the hospital has become. Every time I drive down the 51 and see the Phoenix Children’s Hospital complex, there is a song in my heart and a smile on my face because I helped get the hospital off the ground.”