The Operation Assist Campaign for Children’s Health advocated for improved quality and availability of comprehensive health care services in the Gulf Coast region and the development of a health system infrastructure that adequately addresses the needs of medically underserved communities.
Children's Health Fund promoted this message to a national audience when it launched a caravan of new Operation Assist Mobile Medical Units headed for Gulfport, MS and New Orleans on the NBC Today Show in December 2005. The caravan then drove to Washington, DC, where CHF unveiled its Gulf Coast health care recovery plan, the Health Care Marshall Plan, to lawmakers.
The April release of our findings “On the Edge – Children and Families Displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Face a Looming Medical and Mental Health Crisis” prompted a front page story in the New York Times as well as an editorial on the plight of the unmet needs of the children affected by Hurricane Katrina. An Op-Ed piece by Dr. Redlener entitled “Orphans of the Storm” appeared in the New York Times on May 9, 2006 following our Washington, D. C. press conference.
The Operation Assist Campaign for Children’s Health mobilized national leaders in children’s health to call for immediate Congressional hearings and emergency funding for children in the Gulf affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well as emergency funding for desperately needed mental health services.
On May 9, 2006, CHF President Dr. Irwin Redlener, was joined by Senator Landrieu of Louisiana and national leaders in children’s health, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Based Health Clinics and the March of Dimes, at a press conference held in Washington, D.C. where CHF initiated a national call to action to address the humanitarian crisis brought on in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Read a white paper detailing recommendations.
In December 2007, Congress created the National Commission on Children and Disasters. Dr. Redlener is one of ten members choosen to serve on the commission which will examine and assess the needs of children independently, and in relation to the preparation, response and recovery from emergencies, hazards and disasters. The Commission will issue a final report, complete with findings and recommendations, to the President and Congress.
Guaranteeing access to health care for displaced children and families will remain a compelling challenge.