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Community-level child health: a decade of progress.

  • Burton, O Marion
Published Article
American Academy of Pediatrics
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2005
4 Suppl
PMID: 15821297


In the late 1980s, the leadership of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a growing awareness that there was a population of children in the state who frequented emergency departments and public health clinics but were not considered patients in any medical professional's office. Coincidentally, the commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was struggling to expand resources needed to care for these children, who were crowding his facilities in search of primary care. Department of Health and Environmental Control clinic staff increasingly were unable to provide core public health services because of the need to treat illnesses and conduct well-child visits. Concurrently, with mounting concerns over the inadequacy and/or unavailability of quality health care for all children, the AAP embarked on the Access to Care campaign, a multiyear effort to improve access to care. The South Carolina Chapter of the AAP and Department of Health and Environmental Control subsequently launched an initiative, the Partnerships for Children program, to ensure that South Carolina children who were medically disenfranchised could have a medical home and all other services necessary for health and well-being. Although structured somewhat differently in various communities and practices, each of the >75 partnerships statewide focused on using public health professionals for specific care coordination and support that complemented physician office visits and encounters. These partnerships have gained substantial leverage through the expanding resources of the AAP Access to Care campaign. In reviewing claims for children <3 years old who were enrolled in Medicaid before the establishment of the Partnerships for Children program, <45% had evidence of a well-child visit. Data in the fourth year of the program indicate that 84% of children in this age group have had at least 1 well-child visit. Other data suggesting improved access to care are equally reassuring. In this report, I describe the evolution of the Partnerships for Children program, identify key ingredients for its success, and provide examples of effective strategies that bring community resources into pediatric practices to allow for more efficient and productive delivery of primary care. I also indicate the important role of the AAP Community Access to Child Health infrastructure in the maintenance and further development of this initiative.

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