Responding to a fragile health care system in which many children lack access to primary care providers, Children's Health Fund (CHF) and Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) are launching a new health care program involving a mobile medical clinic that will provide comprehensive health care services to medically underserved children at schools and in community locations.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and singer/songwriter and CHF Co-founder Paul Simon will join CHF Co-founder and President Irwin Redlener, M.D., and HFHS President and CEO Nancy M. Schlichting Dec. 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the NFL/Youth Education Town Boys & Girls Club at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, at 16500 Tireman St., to inaugurate the Children's Health Project of Detroit.
The new program, a partnership between CHF and HFHS, is being launched to further local efforts to address children's health care needs in Detroit. Despite some recent improvements, Detroit lags far behind Michigan and the United States in several key indicators for children's health, including poverty, low birth weight and infant mortality. Detroit's severe shortage of health professionals has only grown worse in recent years, leaving many low-income children without access to essential health care and putting them at serious risk of lifelong negative health implications.
Both nationally and in Detroit, community health centers and hospitals experienced significant increases in the number of uninsured patients between June 2008 and 2009, underscoring the importance of safety-net providers during difficult economic periods. The new program and mobile medical clinic will provide an additional safety net to address the critical level of need in Detroit.
Due to budget woes and a declining population, Detroit's school system has been forced to close dozens of schools in recent years, some of which previously housed HFHS' school-based health clinics. Students continue to be transferred to other schools, creating a transient environment in which access to consistent health care remains elusive to many. The mobile medical clinic will allow HFHS to expand its School-Based and Community Health Program and follow the transplanted students to their new schools, in addition to community locations, ensuring continuity of care.
"Detroit's children face serious challenges in accessing quality health care, which is exacerbated by a shortage of health professionals," said CHF Co-founder and President Irwin Redlener, M.D. "CHF is pleased to partner with HFHS to bring comprehensive health care services to children where they learn and play. The new medical mobile clinic will expand our ability to reach medically underserved children who previously may have faced significant barriers in accessing care."
"There is nothing more important than the health of our children," said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. "I saw a mobile medical clinic firsthand last year when I joined with Paul Simon and the Children's Health Fund to kick off the 'Kids Can't Wait' national campaign here in Detroit. This is a great partnership between Children's Health Fund and Henry Ford Health System that will make a big difference in the lives of our children."
CHF and HFHS estimate that 1,000 to 1,500 children per year will receive comprehensive health care services through the mobile medical clinic. Among the services to be provided are primary care, physical and sports examinations, immunizations, and vision and dental services. Parents may accompany their children on the mobile medical clinic or they may provide signed consent for their children to be seen by a primary care provider when the parents are not present.
The mobile medical clinic will be part of the HFHS Department of Pediatrics' School-Based and Community Health Program, which operates 11 school-based health centers.
"We are very grateful to Children's Health Fund for providing Henry Ford Health System's School-Based and Community Health Program with the mobile medical clinic and creating this new partnership. It essentially puts on wheels an already successful pediatric care program, furthering our work to ensure healthier futures for Detroit's children and youth who might not otherwise have access to care," said Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO, Henry Ford Health System.
"The new mobile medical clinic is exciting and will be an important element of the Children's Health Project of Detroit's efforts to provide quality health care for the children of this community," said CHF Co-founder Paul Simon.
Services will begin Jan. 3 at NFL/Youth Education Town Boys & Girls Club at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, with several other area schools expected to join the program in early 2011.
Henry Ford pediatrician Elliott Attisha, D.O., will be the medical director for the mobile medical unit, under the leadership of Charles Barone, M.D., the chair of pediatrics at HFHS, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hospitalist Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan chapter.
The mobile medical clinic is funded by the Idol Gives Back Foundation, the philanthropic organization established by the producers of American Idol and Fox to raise money and awareness to serve children and their families in need throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.