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Photo Friday - Share the Love!

Share the love and give the gift of good health.  Do something different this Valentine's Day, make a donation to Children's Health Fund in honor of your loved one. You can even send your Valentine a eCard or letter in the mail!  

Photo Friday - Healthy Teeth = Healthy Kids

►In honor of "Give Kids A Smile" Day, take a few minutes to remind your kids how to properly brush and floss their teeth.  You can even demonstrate proper brushing on a doll, just like the boy in this picture!  Or, download our Healthy Teeth Bright Smiles brochure and share with your children.

Giving Kids A Smile…All Year Round

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

Today, as part of National Childhood Dental Awareness month, the American Dental Association (ADA) celebrates “Give Kids A Smile” Day.  This year, over 12,000 dentists have signed up to participate in the program and provide free oral health care to kids from low-income families across the country.  In addition, dental-health focused events across the country will help to shine the light on the many barriers facing low-income families who are trying to access dental care for their kids. 

At Children's Health Fund (CHF), we know all too well how difficult it is for children living in poverty to access dental care. Kids living in poverty have twice the odds of having tooth decay, twice the extent of the decay, twice the unmet treatment need, twice the pain experience, but half the access to dental care than their more affluent peers.   A variety of variables adds to this lack of access:

  • Medicaid’s low reimbursement rate discourages many dentists from participating;
  • Many children in rural communities face transportation barriers in accessing dental care; and
  • In designated dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, too few dentists are available to meet the needs of the community.

At CHF, addressing these low rates of dental care is always a priority. Our National Network programs in Arkansas, Dallas, Idaho, New York City (including Harlem) and Washington, D.C., provide free, comprehensive oral health care – screening, dental exams, digital x-rays, oral health education and dental procedures – to low-income children. Eight of our programs offer fluoride varnishes in the primary care setting, and throughout the National Network primary care providers conduct oral health screenings and provide referrals to collaborating community dentists.  

Today in Idaho, our Idaho Children’s Health Project (ICHP) is participating in the ADA’s “Give Kids A Smile” day!  Dentists will be providing exams, sealants, and fluoride varnishes for 2nd and 3rd graders at Bickel Elementary in Twin Falls and hope to see about 110 kids throughout the day (they will definitely be keeping busy!)  The ICHP is working in collaboration with the Caring Foundation for Children, who will help with paperwork, the College of Southern Idaho, who will bring volunteer dental assistant students, and Delta Dental, who is supplying tooth brush kits for the kids!

We are thrilled to join the ADA’s commitment to helping provide dental care to low-income kids and bring awareness to the many access barriers facing the kids in these communities.  Today and everyday we all need to do what we can to ensure all kids have something to smile about!

A Gold Medal for the New York Children’s Health Project

By Dr. Sharon “PJ” Joseph, Medical Director, New York Children's Health Project, Community Pediatrics Program

As a mom and a pediatrician, there are many moments in my life that have made my heart swell with pride: Graduating from medical school, welcoming each one of my children into the world and helping a severely ill patient get better are a few that come to mind.  This January, my colleagues at the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) and I experienced pride that is on par with these milestones, when NYCHP attained the highest level National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) accreditation as a Patient Centered Home. NYCHP is the Nation’s first mobile medical program to receive the Advanced/Level 3 accreditation, putting our program on the same level as the best health care providers in the country.  It truly is a gold medal around our neck and something we work hard to attain each and every day.

Since NYCHP was established in 1987, our goal has been to provide the best and most comprehensive care, including medical, mental health and nutrition services.  We aim to ensure that NO patient falls through the cracks, that communication with patients and their parents is top-notch, that lab and test results are promptly delivered, and that when referral appointments are made, our patients have the support they need in order to complete the referral and receive timely and appropriate care.  This isn’t always easy when working with such a transient population in an environment that presents numerous challenges of its own.   But because of NYCHP’s unique approach to providing services, we have been able to provide the highest quality of care to underserved patients and are so happy our model of care is now officially  recognized.

As a mom, I have always known that NYCHP is the kind of medical establishment where I would want to bring my kids.  It is a place where moms know their children will receive the best care – where we will both hold their hands and empower them to understand how to best care for their families.   As a doctor, I know the effort and commitment that is necessary for a medical program or institution to receive the Level 3 accreditation.  It was a team effort both in the field and throughout the extensive application process and now, with the NCQA accreditation, other doctors and medical establishments will be able to recognize the incredible quality of care provided by NYCHP. 

We always knew our work deserved a “gold medal.” Now that we have it, it feels great!

Photo Friday - How Chewbacca Helped Children's Health Fund

May the Force be with the Children's Health Fund.  In 2005, George Lucas selected Children's Health Fund as the charity that would benefit from the New York City red carpet premiere of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Pictured at the premiere, with Karen and Irwin Redlener... the one and only Chewbacca.  We're sure he stays warm in this snowy winter weather!

Delicious AND Nutritious… Why I Loved Microwave Cooking

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

Cara, of the Nutrition Team at the New York Children’s Health Project, shows the class how to cook up a proper family meal. Try these sure-to-please recipies from the team Microwave Chicken Parmesan with Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Marinara Sauce Green Beans Simply Easy Cheesecake.

Yesterday, I visited a shelter in New York City with members of the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP)’s nutrition team (Vicky, Cara, and Maya) to take part in a cooking class that teaches moms in the shelter how they can create a healthy and delicious meal, all in the microwave. As I admitted in yesterday’s blog post, I was skeptical that the meal we cooked would really be tasty. Could microwave chicken parmesan really compare with my mom’s chicken parmesan made from scratch? Well, sorry mom, but it really did!

A few reasons why I loved yesterday’s class:

  1. The class is really helpful for the moms in the shelter and they totally appreciate learning how to cook using the microwave. In fact, a few moms had just moved into the shelter and were attending for the first time. You could see they were really paying attention to the recipe and I think were as surprised as me to find out how good the food tasted!
  2. Vicky and team do a great job of integrating nutrition tips into the lesson. For example, since we were cooking pasta, one of the important nutrition tips focused on portion size from foods in the grain group. Since 1 serving of cooked pasta = ½ cup and women are only supposed to have 5 servings from the grain food group for the entire day, Vicky explained that it’s important to watch how much pasta you serve yourself and your kids!
  3. Cooking in the microwave is quick, easy, and the food tastes good. I was amazed at how tender and tasty the chicken was, and it only took 15 minutes total to prepare. And the cheese cake… INCREDIBLE!

But for me, the absolute best part about the class was that the moms can bring their children. It was adorable to see the 3-year olds helping mix the pasta sauce or the batter for the cheesecake. I hope that by participating and learning how to cook a meal that is delicious and nutritious from such an early age, these kids will be set on a healthy track throughout their childhood.

Vicky and team are in the process of working on a cookbook of microwave recipes that they can share with other shelters across New York City.

But as a little treat, Vicky has agreed to share our recipe from yesterday. Try it out… I know you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks to the NYCHP team and the moms for letting me join in on class yesterday!

What’s Cooking? A Creative Solution for Shelter Residents

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

How would you create a homemade meal if you had no kitchen space and only a microwave oven to cook it in?  You’d probably have to be very creative to find a solution that was not only tasty, but nutritional as well.

Today, I am heading to a New York City shelter -- where Children’s Health Fund’s New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) provides services for kids and families -- to take part in a new cooking class that teaches moms in the shelter just that…how they can create a healthy and delicious meal, all in the microwave.

The idea for a microwave cooking class was devised by NYCHP’s nutrition team when they saw the many challenges families living in shelters faced when it came to food security.  The temporary apartments in this particular shelter have no kitchen space, only a microwave and a small refrigerator. Without a stove, many of the residents had difficulty preparing meals and oftentimes were forced into making unhealthy food choices—like fast food or frozen meals—when it came time for dinner. 

Once a month, NYCHP Nutritionist Victoria Stein prepares a menu of easy recipes (including desserts!!).  Prior to the class, Victoria maps out the meal she will help the moms learn to make, ensuring the ingredients are healthy, easy to find, and affordable.  On class days, the group gathers in the shelter, learns to cook the meal together, and then sits down to enjoy their creation.  In addition to teaching them how to make the meal, Vicky also gives the moms nutrition tips and teaches them about microwave safety.  It is a great way for the moms to come together, socialize, and learn how to provide healthy meals for their kids, given their current situation.

I must say, I am not sure what to expect from today’s class (where we will be cooking chicken parmesan, whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, and cheesecake).  Will that really taste good when cooked in the microwave?  I guess I will find out soon enough.

Be sure to check Children's Health Fund’s Twitter for live tweets from the class and check back here tomorrow for my reaction and for some photos. 

Have you tried any microwave recipes you’d like to share?  Let us know.

Photo Friday - 20 Years of Providing Health Care for Kids in Mississippi

►Since 1991, Children's Health Fund and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center have partnered to bring quality health care services to children in remote communities of the Mississippi Delta region.  The Mississippi Children's Health Project  has worked to address access barriers like lack of transportation, lack of insurance, geographic isolation and lack of financial resources, all which prevent kids (like the patients photographed here) from getting the health care they need and deserve.

Every Smile Tells a Story. Connect with Jorge Update.

A smile is worth a thousand words, and when we got this picture from Jorge and his mom Latoya, we could not wait to share an update with you.

Almost a year ago, we introduced you to Jorge as part of the “Connect Kids to Care” program we launched with our partner Clorox.  For Jorge, his genetic disorder, glactosemia, was challenging for his parents, and had the potential to lead to bigger problems if left untreated.  Through the quality care and guidance they receive on the Children’s Health Fund mobile clinic, Jorge’s parents are able to manage his disorder and watch him grow into a happy and healthy young boy.

And, with the help of many Facebook fans, we reached over 100,000 “likes” on Clorox’s page which triggered a generous $100,000 donation from Clorox (in addition to the $500,000 donation they gave to help Children’s Health Fund reach our goal of providing more than half a million health care visits to kids, just like Jorge, over the next two years!)

Jorge’s mom Latoya says: “Jorge is great!  He turned three last October and is a healthy three year old boy (thanks in part to his still visiting Dr. Robin Scott on a regular basis).  Jorge can identify all of the letters of the alphabet by sight and sound.  I created a song for him to help him remember how to spell out his first and last name.  He LOVES Spiderman and Yo Gabba Gabba.  He even dressed up like “Brobee” from Yo Gabba Gabba on Halloween and was excited to tell everyone he saw:  “I’m Brobee.” 

It’s no wonder, we can’t help grinning when we hear stories like this. 

Stay tuned for some new and exciting news from “Connect Kids to Care” and patients like Jorge! 

Photo Friday - Remembering the Children and Families in Haiti

Dr. Aruturo Brito in Haiti 2010

► Pictured above is CHF's Dr. Arturo Brito who traveled to Haiti in January 2010 to provide medical care and assess the impact the earthquake had on Haiti's children.  As we mark the one year anniversary, our thoughts are with the people and children of Haiti.

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