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Photo Friday - Raising Our Voice for America's Children

CHF at Capitol Hill

Since our inception, CHF has remained an active voice in child health care policy both federally and locally. Through Hill visits, Policy Forums, and Advocacy Days like the 2009 event on the West Capitol Lawn, Washington, D.C. (pictured here), CHF raises it's voice for the health care rights of all children, since their voices can not be heard.  

Even with the 2010 passage of the health care law, our fight for the health care rights of all children is far from over. This week the government faces possible shutdown due to Congressional wrangling over the current year’s budget.  The House passed a budget that the Senate deems unacceptable while a small faction in the House is calling for even deeper cuts than the ones they already passed.  EVERYTHING is on the table, including cuts to Medicaid and even the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These potential reductions in funding for vital safety net programs will impact millions of children and families, including 30 million children that depend on Medicaid.  We need you to contact your representatives and tell them it is imperative that they work to protect children from theses program cuts and changes now and in the future.
 

Talking Cheetos, Pediatric Dentistry, and the Dental Home

By Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, CHF

Dr. Manali Kanitkar, Pediatric Dentist for Children's Health Fund's New York Mobile Dental Clinic

Dr. Manali Kanitkar, Pediatric Dentist
Children's Health Fund, New York Mobile Dental Clinic

 

 

A few weeks ago, my colleagues and I enjoyed a visit with Dr. Manali Kanitkar, the new dentist for CHF’s New York Mobile Dental Clinic, which will begin providing much needed dental care to New York City kids in a few weeks. The dental clinic will work in tandem with our mobile clinics, which visit numerous homeless shelters throughout New York City to provide quality health care to a growing number of poor and underserved children.

It was so interesting and exciting to listen to Dr. Kanitkar talk about her career and her plans to help bring the ‘Dental Home’ to homeless kids in New York, who desperately need quality dental care. The Dental Home is an ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient to provide comprehensive oral health care in a family-centered and accessible way. Dr. Kanitkar understands that the parents, physician, dentist, mental health professional, etc., all need to work together to ensure the child’s well-being.

We talked a lot about how nutrition and healthy eating impacts oral health. Many of the dental-related problems kids experience while growing up are the direct result of poor eating and oral hygiene habits. For example, one of leading causes of tooth decay (cavities) is called “Early Childhood Caries” (or commonly referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay”) and is caused by giving children sugary drinks in bottles from an early age. The sugar from the juice or soda sticks to the teeth, causing extensive tooth decay at a young age, which in turn impacts the child’s oral and general health throughout his or her life.

Cooking, Health Education, Fitness, and Fun! My Day as a CHEFF.

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

When I was growing up, I was lucky to have a safe place to play outdoors with my family and friends. Kickball, hide and seek, wiffle ball, you name it. We got to run around, get some exercise, and have fun in the kind of environment I’d hope every kid has access to.

But childhood for kids living in homeless shelters isn’t much like mine was. They struggle daily with stressful experiences that have a lasting effect on their development and ability to learn and play. They also experience higher rates of acute and chronic health problems.

This past week, as I walked to one of the homeless shelters in the Bronx, served by the health care team from CHF’s New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP), I wondered, “where do the local kids go to play after school”? Is there a park or youth center nearby? Are the obesity rates in this area higher because there aren’t any places to go?

Photo Friday - Play Ball!

Yankee legend Don Mattingly Children's Health Funds Yankees Home Run Club

In 1988, Yankee legend Don Mattingly (pictured here with CHF's Irwin Redlener, M.D. and some Yankees fans) helped launch the Children's Health Fund's Yankees Home Run Club to raise money and awareness for our programs that provide comprehensive health care to underserved children. Thanks to the generous support of loyal Yankee/CHF fans, the Club has grown over the years and raised more than a million dollars.

Yesterday, the Yankees kicked off their 2011 season (with a win!), which means our Yankees Home Run Club, sponsored by Delta Air Lines, is back in action. Hit a home run for kids by making a pledge for every home run the Yankees hit.

Faces from the Field: Dr. Elliott Attisha

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

National Doctor’s Day honors the work of doctors across the United States. In celebration of Doctor’s Day 2011, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the newest pediatrician to join the Children’s Health Fund (CHF) community, Dr. Elliott Attisha from the Children’s Health Project of Detroit.

Dr. Attisha grew up in the metro Detroit area and has been working as a pediatrician in the Motor City for the past 10 years. I haven’t met Elliott in person, but this interview offered me the opportunity to hear more about the challenges the children of Detroit face accessing health care, as well as Elliott’s perspective about caring for the kids of this community.

Caitlin (C): What inspired you to become a doctor?

Patient care on CHF's Detroit Mobile Medical Unit. Elliott (E): I would have to say that my parents, especially my dad, pretty much engraved the idea in my head from a few minutes after I was born and maybe even when I was still in my mother’s womb. Of course, I rebelled and wanted to become anything but a doctor. As many people do, I changed my career goals in college multiple times and finally decided to give medicine a chance. I volunteered in a hospital and knew that this is where I belonged. Although I started out with the intent of becoming a family doctor, the part I enjoyed the most was working with kids, so I pursued a career in pediatrics instead. What better a profession for someone who never wants to grow up? Later in life I married a pediatrician who happens to feel the same way.

C: What made you want to work for an organization like CHF?

E: For over nine years, I practiced pediatrics in suburban Detroit. Although I cherished the continuity of care, I longed to make a more lasting impact in my community. In September 2010, I joined Henry Ford Health System’s School-Based and Community Health Program in Detroit. My role as a pediatrician truly became that of an advocate for some of our nation’s most underserved children. The challenges that inner-city children face are overwhelming, with multiple barriers to health care, education, proper nutrition and so much more. Henry Ford’s School-Based health clinics play an integral role in alleviating many of these barriers. I found my work to be truly rewarding. Soon after joining the school clinics I was informed of Henry Ford’s partnership with CHF. It didn’t take more than a few minutes of learning about the program to know that it was the perfect complement to what Henry Ford was already doing with each of its school clinics.

Fighting Cavities With Fluoride Varnish

By Delaney Gracy , MD, MPH, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Children's Health Fund

As a pediatrician and a mom, I know how important it is for kids to practice proper oral health care from an early age. When teeth are not properly cared for, more critical medical problems may occur and in some extreme cases can even lead to death.

As I explained on Give Kids a Smile Day, in the low-income communities where doctors within CHF’s network serve, lack of oral health care is a huge problem and kids are suffering. Luckily, in addition to providing free, comprehensive oral health care—screening, dental exams, digital x-rays, oral health education and dental procedures—many of our programs have also implemented an easy and affordable way to help kids in low-income families keep their teeth safe and clean through the use of fluoride varnishing. Fluoride varnish is a highly concentrated form of fluoride which is applied to the tooth’s surface to help prevent cavities. It is easy to apply, extremely affordable, and is safe for/tolerated by infants, young kids and individuals with special needs. The best part though is that it is effective—several studies have shown a 25-45% reduction in the decay rate with the use of fluoride varnish.

Dental varnish is applied to the teeth with a little disposable brush.In a few easy steps, your dentist, hygienist, or primary health care provider can apply the varnish: ensure the teeth are dry, apply a thin layer of the varnish to all surfaces of the teeth with a disposable brush (almost like painting), and once the varnish comes into contact with saliva, it will harden and you are done!

If, and how often, a child needs fluoride varnish depends on many factors, including the amount of fluoride in their water supply, if they are taking vitamins with fluoride supplementation, their general oral health, and their individual risk factors.

It’s important to note that applying the varnish does not negate the importance regular visits with a dentist, or of daily dental care like brushing your teeth or flossing. It’s just another way to help in the fight against cavities….and that’s a great thing.

Has your child received the varnish application? How did he/she react? Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo Friday - Meet CHF's Newest Team Member, Dr. Manali Kanitkar

Dr. Manali Kanitkar joins Children's Health Fund's New York Mobile Dental Clinic.

Today, Children's Health Fund welcomed Dr. Manali Kanitkar, the new dentist for the New York Mobile Dental Clinic, which will begin providing much needed dental care to New York City kids in a few weeks. Dr. Kanitkar spoke with CHF staff today and is pictured here (center) with Dr. Irwin Redlener and Dr. Delaney Gracy. Stay tuned for a full introduction to Dr. Kanitkar, including her vision and experience with the pediatric 'Dental Home'.

One Year Later – Are Children’s Provisions at Risk?

By Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

A year ago today, Children's Health Fund (CHF) and many other child advocacy organizations applauded passage of the health care reform law signed by President Obama. In a newly released white paper entitled Children Under Siege: Safeguarding Provisions for Children in the New Health Law, CHF details how the health care reform law will improve the lives of millions of children.

Provisions in the law will lead to more children having health insurance and improved access to care. The law also includes efforts to increase the numbers of primary care physicians and community health centers. More school based health centers will get the funding they need, as will efforts to prevent chronic illness that are already underway, including initiatives to curb obesity and tobacco use.

Moving this law forward is an investment in our nation’s future that needs our support   Instead, the health care reform law is under siege on a number of fronts including attempts in Congress to de-fund and weaken the law.It is critical that advocates for children speak out to prevent the roll-back of these important provisions.  Tell your lawmakers you support the health care reform law because it will greatly improve the lives of millions of children.

Photo Friday - Spring is Just Around the Corner!

Children's Health Fund teaches children and their families that playing outdoors is a great way to stay healthy and active.

With warmer weather and longer days, it's much easier to get outside and get some exercise.  Hitting the playground (like these kids in Southern Arizona), playing a sport, or even taking a walk with your kids after dinner are all fun ways your family can get the exercise your body needs.  

Need more ideas on ways to get moving? Check out our recently updated Healthy B.A.S.I.C.S brochure: Be Active for Good Health.

Building an Office of Children and Youth

by Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

Last Wednesday, I spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional staff and talking with them about one of Children's Health Fund (CHF)’s legislative priorities for this year: Establishing a White House Office for Children and YouthThe purpose of this office would be to create a national policy strategy for the nation’s children and to ensure that all programs and services for kids, which are spread throughout many government agencies, are acting in coordination with each other as part of the national strategy. To learn more, please take a look at the comments CHF recently submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services on a national strategy for children.

All of the Congressional staff I met with were generally in agreement that more focus needs to be directed toward bettering the outcomes for America’s kids. With one in five kids being born into poverty, 30 percent of students failing to graduate from high school and 9 million children lacking health insurance, how could you not want to fix things, right? But many of the staffers cited they were too busy with other issues to champion this effort. Ironically, this is exactly why we need an office to focus just on kids. Too often other priorities get pushed to the top of the agenda and our kids lose out.

Luckily, we have some members of Congress that ARE willing to take charge on this issue and we look forward to working with them to ensure the well-being of children, especially the underserved.  Our promise is to continue to fight to make sure kids issues are a main focus of the federal government.

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