News Release: University News

Nov. 17,  2009

$3 Million Award to Strengthen Emory Outreach to At-Risk Children

A recent $3 million award from The Zeist Foundation will help Emory University pediatricians improve outcomes for at-risk children in metro Atlanta and throughout the state over the next five years.

The award will fund development of an urban health program in the Department of Pediatrics. Specifically, it will be used to provide technical assistance and grants for schools, community organizations and health care providers to develop school-based clinics in their respective communities.

In addition, it will support an academic success coordinator for pediatrics, who will oversee Reach Out and Read, and an early childhood literacy program conducted at Atlanta's Whitefoord Elementary School clinic and the Grady Neighborhood Health Centers. The fund will help with hosting of conferences and workshops that help support integration and coordination of primary care activities throughout metro Atlanta.

Funding also will be used to support program staffing and collaborative efforts between the Department of Pediatrics and other urban health initiatives at Emory, such as the one being developed by Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital. That initiative, which has received a planning grant from the Woodruff Foundation, will support all disciplines of medicine from primary care to subspecialty care.

"Emory's urban health program will increase access to quality health care, enhance the delivery of primary health care services through a holistic and integrated approach, and improve the overall health of Georgia's children," says Veda Johnson, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Emory School of Medicine and co-founder of the Whitefoord Community Program's school-based clinics.

The program will expand school-based health clinics throughout metro Atlanta and the state, as well as increase access to and improve delivery of pediatric primary care services for urban-based populations. The program also will advise community leaders and policy makers on the value of coordinated health services for preschool children, and work to improve high school graduation rates in metro Atlanta.

There is a dire need for the urban health program, says Johnson. According to the 2009 Kids Count Data Book - a national study on the well-being of America's children - Georgia ranks 42nd overall on the well-being of children. It also ranks in the bottom 10 in six categories: low-birth weight, infant mortality, high school dropouts, births to teens, children in single-parent families, and teens not attending school and not working.

"In addition, more than 300,000 of Georgia's children are uninsured and as a result do not have a medical home and have very limited access to routine health care," says Johnson. "This generous gift is of tremendous importance to the development and sustainability of the urban health program."

Emory's Department of Pediatrics, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Grady Health System will collaborate on the urban health program.

The Zeist Foundation, established in 1989, provides support to non-profit organizations serving children, youth and families in the areas of education, arts and culture, and health and human services.

This award is part of Campaign Emory, a $1.6 billion fund-raising endeavor that combines private support and the University's people, places, and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world.

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