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Children's Capitol Connections - Spring/Summer 2009




Children's National Receives National Health Care Award

Children’s National Medical Center is the recipient of the Academic Pediatric Association’s (APA) 2009 Health Care Delivery Award, recognizing the institution’s work to advance two nationally benchmarked child health quality measures: immunization compliance rates and preventive care visits.

Annually, the APA competitively selects one national award winner in the healthcare delivery category to recognize innovation, effectiveness, and care excellence in a delivery system that includes medical students and residents. The Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, home to primary care at Children’s National, was selected for applying a system that effectively integrates quality improvement methods, information technology, and community partnerships to dramatically improve immunization compliance rates for children ages 19 to 35 months of age.

Children’s initiative resulted in an increase in the percentage of 19 to 35 month-old patients who are up-to-date on targeted immunizations from 75 percent in 2006 to 88 percent in 2008. These dramatic increases now rank the Goldberg Center compliance rates comparable with the top five jurisdictions in the country according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Additionally, for the first time, the District of Columbia as a whole is currently recognized as the urban area with the highest immunization rates for this same patient population.

“We are honored to be recognized for our work to improve the quality of care and health outcomes of District of Columbia children,” noted Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President, Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health. “We actively partner with the District’s Department of Health, managed care organizations, community organizations, providers, and our colleagues here at Children’s National in the Child Health Advocacy Institute, to systematically address children’s health quality and outcomes. We are pleased to be recognized as leaders in developing and implementing best practices that make a real difference.”

Children’s National’s Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, the largest provider of pediatric primary care services in the District of Columbia, annually serves approximately 30,000 patients aged birth to 21 years - accounting for 80,000 visits every year. The Goldberg Center provides this care through seven community-based health centers and three mobile medical units.

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Children's National Celebrates New NICU Facilities

On May 17, 2009, Children’s National Medical Center transferred 28 fragile newborns into its new, state-of-the-art, 54 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). At 35,000 square feet, the new NICU is approximately four times larger than the old unit.

“This is a dream come true for our staff, patients, and families,” said Billie L. Short, MD, Chief of Neonatology at Children’s National. “This NICU was designed with input from our families, nurses, and medical care team members, and we couldn’t be more proud of this unit.”

The 54-bed NICU at Children’s National is the only Level IIIC NICU in the region, the highest distinction available by the American Academy of Pediatrics. That ranking is conferred on NICUs that, among other cutting edge services, offer ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation or heart/lung bypass).

Features of the New Unit

  • Private patient rooms designed with input from families and staff
  • Two parent transition sleep rooms with private bath and a washer and dryer, allow parents to spend the night with their child for pre-discharge readiness
  • Patient monitor alarms are located at the bedside and ring directly to nurse phones
  • Remote EEG monitoring
  • Eight designated neonatal neurology beds for dedicated neuroprotection care
  • Refrigerators located in each room allowing mothers to pump fresh milk for even very premature babies who use nasogastric (NG) tubes. Breast milk warmers also are provided at each bedside
  • Soft/indirect lighting is used in the NICU to improve developmental care. This is a nationwide best practice in the care for premature neonates. It creates a calm and soothing environment and reduces the risk of injury to developing retinas.
  • Two family waiting areas, one of which has a sibling play zone. The other is a quiet room available for reading or meditation.

NICU Family Reunion
To celebrate the opening of the new facility, Children's National held a NICU Family Reunion on April 25. More than 130 people attended the event, with lunch, face-painting, crafts, a dog show, and a visit by Dr. Bear. Families and patients reunited with Children’s physicians, nurses, and staff—as often times patients stay in the NICU for more than 30 days and build strong relationships with other families and their care teams.

About Children's NICU
Children's multidisciplinary team includes neonatologists, neonatal neurologists, pediatric surgical and medical subspecialists, radiologists, and specially trained nurses.

A neonatal neurologist rounds with the neonatology team every day to ensure the protection of neurological function and development in pre-term infants, using technologies such as:

  • Whole-body cooling
  • ECMO
  • Non-sedated MRI
  • Neonatal MRI head coils
  • MRI-compatible incubators
  • Portable CT scanner
  • Continuous brain wave and brain oxygen monitoring technology, which was evaluated and refined at Children’s National.

Children’s has the oldest neonatal neurointensive care program in the mid-Atlantic region and is one of only a few hospitals in the country with three neonatal neurologists and two neonatal EEG specialists. Seven pediatric neurophysiologists and three pediatric neuroradiologists also are part of the Children’s NICU team.

Children’s has successfully treated infants who weighed approximately one pound at birth and were born at less than 23 weeks gestation. Children’s Neonatology Program is ranked in the top 10 neonatology programs in the United States by U.S.News & World Report.

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Childhood Obesity Campaign Recognized by Surgeon General

Children's National Medical Center and its partners 9 News Now and Kaiser Permanente recently received the Surgeon General's Champion Award for their "Lighten Up" campaign to combat childhood obesity. 

Childhood obesity is one of the most significant health concerns for the Washington Metro area.  According to the 2007 report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of overweight children ages 10 to 17 in the nation, at 23 percent. 

"There is no better place to combat childhood obesity than in the nation's capital, where we have the highest rate of overweight 10 to 17 year olds in the country,” said Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MBA, senior vice president of the Diana L. & Stephen A. Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children's National Medical Center.  "As part of the Lighten Up campaign, the Obesity Institute at Children's National aims to help children and families nationwide avoid the health risks associated with childhood obesity such as heart disease and diabetes."

The "Lighten Up" campaign, which launched in January 2009, includes five, thirty second public service announcement TV spots and online Web banners designed to educate families on the dangers of childhood obesity and the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. 

In addition to the online and television PSAs, the campaign empowers parents to take control of childhood obesity through free educational materials. For example, the free Lighten Up Toolkit includes the following helpful tips, tools and topics for assessing, preventing and overcoming childhood obesity:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator
  • Food diary and tips for making good health a habit
  • The basic facts of childhood obesity and BMI
  • Tips for helping children eat well
  • Easy ways to make exercise an enjoyable part of every day
  • Tips for encouraging children to have a positive body image
  • Access to a special online video game that teaches the value of health food choices

“The Lighten Up campaign is an example of achievement that results from powerhouse organizations coming together to help our young people develop healthy habits that will last them a lifetime,” said Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH. 

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Children’s Pioneering Electronic Medical Records System

Brian Jacobs, MD, Vice President & Chief Medical Information Officer at Children's National Medical Center, was recently featured on National Public Radio (NPR) demonstrating how the hospital has transitioned to electronic medical records systems, and how it is helping local pediatricians do the same. Listen to the story on NPR

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