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Bearings - Fall 2009

President Obama Holds Roundtable Discussion on Health Reform at Children's National Medical Center

On July 20, President Barack Obama held a roundtable discussion on healthcare reform with pediatric practitioners from Children’s National Medical Center. The discussion focused on the unique needs of children and the challenges of ensuring quality health care for all children.

In the closed-door meeting with the President, Children’s National providers emphasized three priority health reform issues:

  • Universal coverage does not translate to universal access. Inadequate Medicaid reimbursement limits children’s access to care. More than one in four children nationwide relies on Medicaid for health coverage. Because Medicaid reimbursement rarely covers the cost of care - an average of 20 to 30 percent less than Medicare - many providers significantly restrict the number of Medicaid patients they’ll see, if at all. All Medicaid providers should be reimbursed at levels at least equal to Medicare.
  • Pediatric workforce challenges are different than adult medicine. Adult medicine faces a shortage of primary care physicians, but in pediatrics the shortage is in specialties. Pediatric specialty training includes as much as seven years of extra training, and often pediatric specialists earn less than their adult specialty counterparts. Because Medicaid reimburses significantly below costs, there is often less incentive to specialize in pediatric medicine.
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other technologies should reflect the unique needs of children and their providers. To date, most EHR vendors have focused on the needs of adult health care providers and most national health information technology (HIT) efforts have focused almost exclusively on adults. As a result, existing HIT systems must be customized, at great cost, to meet the needs of the pediatric population.

“As the nation’s children’s hospital, located just a few miles from the steps of the Capitol, Children’s National Medical Center knows firsthand about the challenges facing our healthcare system,” said Edwin K. Zechman, Jr., president and chief executive officer at Children’s National. “We’re very pleased that President Obama is seeking the input of pediatric experts as he looks to address the complex issues of healthcare reform.”

President Obama met with:

Children’s National is participating in the Speak Now for Kids in Health Reform campaign, a national grassroots effort sponsored by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (N.A.C.H.). This campaign seeks to engage healthcare providers, patients, and families in ensuring that policy makers understand that children’s healthcare needs must be addressed in federal healthcare reform. Many of Children’s National’s patients, families, and other community leaders have posted comments and video testimonials on the campaign’s web site.  Children’s National also has endorsed a set of principles that urges policy makers to consider when addressing children’s unique needs in healthcare reform.

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Children’s National Partners with St. Mary's Hospital

Children’s National Medical Center recently announced a new partnership with St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown to provide an expanded range of pediatric services for the area’s children and families.

Beginning in July, St. Mary’s Hospital and Children’s National began offering pediatric electroencephalograms and sleep studies at St. Mary’s Hospital. Pulmonary function testing for pediatric patients will be added to the service line beginning in October.

Access to pediatric specialty care is critical to children with chronic and life threatening conditions. Because children are generally healthy, however, pediatric specialty care such as cardiology and neurology is regionalized and concentrated in children’s hospitals. As a result, families with sick children often must travel outside their communities to access necessary care. This partnership bridges this gap by conveniently and efficiently facilitating consultations between medical teams from St. Mary’s Hospital and Children’s National’s specialists.

The current and projected population growth has created a special need for access to pediatric subspecialty services in Southern Maryland, particularly children in St. Mary’s County. Despite providing cardiology and gastroenterology services in St. Mary’s County, Children’s National continues to experience growth in neurological and cardiac care visits to the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Children's Medicine from children and families in Southern Maryland. A goal of this partnership is to improve access to pediatric specialty care for children and families in Southern Maryland.

"We’re bringing high-quality care to families in our community through this innovative partnership that integrates advanced telemedicine technologies to increase the reach of one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the country,” said Kevin Oliver, director of Physiology Services at St. Mary’s Hospital. “Patients and families in St. Mary’s County now have access to the expert pediatric care offered by Children’s National’s specialists right in their own community.”

Through Children’s National’s telemedicine program, a variety of tests and monitoring services are or will be available to pediatric patients and their families at St. Mary’s Hospital:

All tests will be conducted at St. Mary’s Hospital. Test results are sent electronically to specialists at Children’s National to interpret and then consult with the patient’s pediatrician in determining best options for care. This partnership makes routine tests more accessible and convenient. Additionally, if it’s determined that a child requires a Children’s National specialist, access is facilitated through this partnership.

Children’s National’s telemedicine program offers a number of advantages to these families:

  • Families can access pediatric specialty care near home, avoiding the expense and inconvenience associated with traveling to Children’s National in Washington
  • Children can be discharged in a timely fashion and avoid unnecessary and lengthy hospital stays.
  • Telemedicine reduces healthcare costs by cutting down on unnecessary tests and procedures.

“We are pleased to work with St. Mary’s Hospital to extend the care we offer to families throughout the region,” said Peter R. Holbrook, MD, chief medical officer, Children’s National Medical Center. “Given the sophisticated nature of the technologies now available for pediatric diagnostics and care — and the training of specialists required to offer this care — the trend is toward partnerships like these between solid community hospitals and pediatric specialty-care facilities. We are pleased to work together to benefit the region’s children.”

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U.S. News & World Report Ranks Children's National Medical Center Among Best Children's Hospitals

Children's National Medical Center is once again ranked among America’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Children’s National ranks among the top 30 pediatric subspecialty care providers in the country in several unique categories.

In its current rankings, U.S. News & World Report does not rank hospitals by one composite ranking; rather, it has shifted to rankings in 10 distinct categories: Cancer; Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders; Digestive Disorders; Heart & Heart Surgery; Kidney Disorders; Neonatal Care; Neurology & Neurosurgery; Orthopedics; Respiratory Disorders; and Urology. Highlights include Children’s National’s neonatal care (ranked #10 among children’s hospitals) and heart and heart surgery care (ranked #19 among children’s hospitals).

"Children’s National is proud to be ranked among the best pediatric healthcare providers in the country," said Edwin K. Zechman, Jr., president and CEO of Children's National Medical Center. "This ranking highlights our role and responsibility as an advocate for all children nationwide through our position and voice in the nation’s capital."

Children’s National provides premier pediatric healthcare services in key areas including neonatology, cancer, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, digestive disorders, respiratory disorders, urology, and orthopaedics.  Children’s National also is a member of the elite U.S. pediatric research institutions that marry cutting-edge research to high-quality care within the same facility. It is a top-ranked freestanding children’s hospital in terms of National Institutes of Health funding for pediatric research.
"From our world-renowned research on pediatric brain tumors, rare diseases, and muscular dystrophies, to our comprehensive neonatology program that offers ECMO and whole-body cooling to protect the most fragile newborns, to our focus on family-centered care, Children’s National is setting standards for the highest quality patient care possible," said Peter Holbrook, MD, chief medical officer at Children’s National Medical Center. "This honor recognizes these efforts and the impact they have on the health of children regionally, nationally, and internationally."

While this ranking is an important indicator of the work performed at Children’s National, we recognize that the true value of our work is measured by our daily efforts to provide world-class care to each of our patients and families.

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