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Faces from the Field: Donna D. Usner, ACE, LCSW-BACS

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

This Saturday, August 28, marks the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Shortly after the hurricane ravished the Gulf Coast, CHF’s mobile clinics were on the ground, providing health care for the children and families in the region.  Three permanent Children's Health Fund programs, in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Mississippi Gulf Coast, were launched and continue to provide health and mental health care to children and families living in the Gulf Coast region today.

Today, we’re talking to Donna Usner, who has been with the New Orleans Children’s Health Project since the program launched after Hurricane Katrina.  Enjoy!

Caitlin (C): Donna, thanks for interviewing with us!  How long have you been working with CHF? 

Donna: I began work with NOCHP not long after Katrina, in 2006.

C: What made you want to work for this type of organization?

Donna: As part of a career goal, I’ve always worked with children and families during a time of crisis. CHF’s work fit with my personal mission. Prior to Katrina, I worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital that flooded and under great controversy would not reopen. As a result, I was forced to write the next chapter in my life. I met some of the CHF team in Baton Rouge and they talked me into doing a mental health needs assessment for the New Orleans area with the intent to have a Community Support and Resiliency Unit arrive the following spring.

C: What is your favorite part about working on the mobile clinic?

Donna: The mobile clinics I work on are state of the art clinics that truly remove barriers to accessing quality health care (physical and mental health care). The families we meet are my ‘favorite part’ of the work but the fact that each day is different… one never knows what to expect next on the mobile unit J! I also enjoy my work at a local maternity home done in conjunction with the mobile care clinics.

Photo Friday - Enjoy the Summer Sunshine!

Summer is flying by, so be sure to get outside, enjoy the weather, and get some exercise.  Ride a bike, take a walk, or even hula-hoop!! Just be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Pediatric Advocacy Day – Orlando, Florida

by: Dr. Veenod “Vinny” Chulani, Medical Director, Orlando Children’s Health Project

Last month, the Orlando Children’s Health Project held Pediatric Advocacy Day to raise awareness of the importance of advocacy and engage the pediatric community in the legislative process. As part of CHF’s National Network, I’ve been lucky enough to become an advocate not only for my program, but for my patients, bringing their voices to the halls of Congress and locally to my elected representatives in Orlando. This work is critical, as many of my patients depend on safety net programs, like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Pediatric Advocacy Day - Orlando, Fla.Pediatric Advocacy Day began as in idea to better engage pediatric residents at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center and give them the tools to become advocates for their patients outside of the hospital, to the community and elected officials. To start the day, widely respected child advocate Jack Levine delivered Grand Rounds entitled The Crossroads of Politics and Policy: How to Advocate Without Getting Run Over.

The day continued with a forum: Advocates in Action for Children and Families, and was attended by hospital and residency administrators, pediatric faculty and residents, and members of the institution's Community Leadership Council, and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation and its board. The forum highlighted the need for advocates to help inform the implementation of health care reform to best serve children and families.

Photo Friday: Hello from Idaho!

Children's Health Fund Mobile Dental Unit - Idaho

► Patients from our Idaho Children's Project wave "hello" outside of their Mobile Dental Unit. Next time you see a CHF Mobile Clinic providing care in or driving through your community, take a picture and send it to us at or post it to our facebook!

Faces from the Field: Maria Even Johns, LPC

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

Blog readers, today we are happy to introduce you to another “Face from the Field”. Maria Even Johns is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) that works on the mobile clinic at CHF’s New Orleans Children’s Health Project (NOCHP).

Enjoy and don’t forget to leave questions/comments for Maria!

Maria Even Johns, LPC New Orleans Children’s Health Project (NOCHP)

Caitlin (C): How long have you been working with CHF?

Maria: I’ve been here for almost 3 years (2yrs 10 months to be exact!)

C: What made you want to work for this type of organization?

Maria: I wanted the opportunity to work with culturally diverse kids and families.

C: What is your favorite part about working on the mobile clinic?

Maria: The diversity we see in the neighborhoods and population we serve.

C: What are the biggest challenges children and families in your region are experiencing in accessing health care and how are you addressing them?

Maria: Lack of transportation is a major barrier to care for our families. So to help them, we have implemented a program to provide transportation for these families to access care.

Oil Crisis: Far From Over

CHF released a study this week that left us deeply concerned about the children and families directly impacted by the oil spill.  The study found that over one-third of parents report that their children have experienced either physical symptoms or mental health distress as a consequence of the oil spill.  In a few short weeks, CHF will deploy a Mobile Clinic to Plaquemines Parish (south of New Orleans), an area heavily impacted by the disaster.  This unit will provide much needed medical care and public health information about this ongoing crisis to families.

Faces from the Field: Dr. Rhonique Shields-Harris

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

Hello blog readers, this is Caitlin from Children's Health Fund's Communication’s department.

We have some exciting posts on the horizon that we think will give you an even better glimpse into the Children’s Health Fund.  We’ve asked some of our doctors, nurses, mental health providers, drivers, and other staff members across the CHF Network to contribute to our blog and the response has been overwhelming!!  Over the next few months, we will begin to introduce you to the faces of CHF—the people providing quality health care to America’s most vulnerable children.  After their introduction, keep your eye out for more posts from these new bloggers.  We hope you enjoy the posts and please feel free to leave comments/questions. 

Well, that is enough from me…Check out my interview with Dr. Rhonique Shields-Harris, Medical Director of CHF’s Children’s Health Project of D.C. (CHPDC).

Caitlin (C):  Dr. Harris, how long have you been working with CHPDC?

Dr. Harris:  I’ve been with the program for 11 years now!  I started as a pediatric resident and when I finished my residency, stayed with the program as an attending physician.  I took over as the Medical Director of the program in 2005.

C:  What made you want to work for this type of organization?

Dr. H:   During residency my training involved working on the mobile units and providing advocacy for the families. I knew that this was a meaningful career path, which is why I requested to stay with the program. 

C:  What is your favorite part about working on the mobile clinic?

Dr. H:   My favorite part is knowing that at the end of the day, many of my patients are living healthier lifestyles because of the work of the mobile health team

Why the Crews’n Healthmobile Loves Our Electronic Health Record and You Should Too!

by Randy Christensen, MD, Medical Director, Phoenix Children's Health Project

The Phoenix Children’s Health Project’s Crews’n Healthmobile is a 38 foot mobile medical unit that circles Phoenix and surrounding cities taking care of homeless children and adolescents.  For much of the day it is away from our “offices” and as such carries all that we need to provide comprehensive care to this vulnerable population.  As you might expect keeping medical records for this type of practice might be a little difficult. It was! I remember thinking about the day we could install our Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. Through the efforts of Children’s Health Fund we were finally able to realize that dream. 

Since that time EHR has proven to be an essential and vital part of our work. In fact, it has been the most beneficial step we have taken to ensure state of the art care for our kids. The majority of our patients are homeless and their surroundings change sporadically and frequently, so one week they may be cared for at one of the sites we serve and the next week, end up at a site on the opposite side of the city. As our program and patient base expanded, so did our need. Fortunately we have been able to meet that need thanks in large part to our Electronic Health Records.  Check out a recent article on the Department of Health and Human Services website which explains in detail how PCHP eventually came to implementing and enhancing our system. We love it, and even more than that, our patients love it!

Photo Friday - On the Road in Rural West Virginia

Imagine if your child was sick, but you couldn't get to a doctor because the nearest pediatrician is 3 hours away.  This is a harsh reality for many families across the US.   Pictured here is our mobile medical clinic, "a doctor's office on wheel's," on the road in rural West Virginia bringing care where its needed the most.

Photo Friday - HBO Volunteers Help Teach Kids about Healthy Living

CHF's Harlem Children's Health Project taught kids about health living during yesterday's Harlem Children's Zone's Summer Games in NYC.  Volunteers from HBO and Deerfield Company spent the day with HCHP staff and talked about eating right, exercise, and keeping hands clean. They also handed out goodie bags that included CHF's Asthma Guide and also toothbrushes and toothpaste donated by GlaxoSmithKline.  Thanks to all of our donors and volunteers who made this a great day!

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