• Article
  • April 24, 2018

Our First Priority is Providing the Best Care to Kids

We should raise our voices together to help confront the issues facing kids.

By Mark Wietecha

Today, challenges to children's health are everywhere. Issues like opioid addiction, suicide, gun violence, hurricanes, child abuse, poverty, obesity, immigration and lead toxicity dominate the news and reflect a reality that disproportionately affects children. These issues shape their lifelong physical and emotional health. Children are among our most vulnerable populations, and their homes, schools and communities are integral to their development.

As a children's hospital community, we consider how we rise to these challenges and how we define our role in making things better. Do we engage with flash points as they emerge, or do we undertake sustained campaigns on specific issues? Do we apply smaller efforts broadly, or do we focus on a few areas where we may have a greater influence? These are questions we frequently weigh.

We know our first priority is to provide the best care for the children and families we serve. We represent the promise of care, cures and hope for them. To support this, we must protect and enhance funding for children's health through Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program. The availability of pediatric specialists is also paramount to our ability to serve children, and our efforts in support of Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education ensure funding for more than half the nation's pediatric residents. We've been successful in this advocacy, and it's vital we stay focused on continuing this work.

We also work together to improve the practice of children's health care within our hospitals and communities. We focus on children with complex or chronic medical conditions, populations for which children's hospitals are positioned to drive improvement in health care and outcomes. Similarly, more than 50 hospitals are collaborating to reduce sepsis morbidity and mortality. Sepsis kills more children than cancer, and we can positively influence pediatric sepsis outcomes from the home to the intensive care unit.

Beyond our campuses, we play essential roles in our communities and nationally, too. This includes collaboration and research on addressing the social, emotional and economic challenges to health. While we cannot address every issue and have a meaningful effect, we can still do our part as pediatric health care experts.

Mark Wietecha is president and CEO of the Children's Hospital Association. Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.