Pediatric Program Wins Award, Hosts National Conference

American Academy of Pediatrics to honor innovative program next month

September 20, 2001

Fresh off news of its second major award in two years, Pediatric Links with the Community - a program created by physicians at Children's Hospital at Strong - will this week host 250 leaders in the fields of child advocacy and community pediatricians.

The Dyson Symposium is a national conference held to encourage pediatric professionals to develop better skills and a greater interest in community-based medicine, advocacy, and the capacity to improve the health of children in their communities. The conference will be held Sept. 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 125 E. Main St., Rochester. It's sponsored by The Dyson Foundation, a charitable organization that last year awarded $2.5 million awarded to Pediatric Links with the Community.

Samuel Kessel, M.D., assistant U.S. surgeon general, T. Berry Brazelton professor of pediatrics at Harvard University and a well-known author and columnist, Judith Palfrey, M.D., chief of general pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, and Rochester Mayor William Johnson are among those scheduled to attend.

The first of its kind in the country when it started in 1996, Pediatric Links with the Community encourages pediatric residents and medical students to spend time in the community. These residents get to know children and families, the resources available from local groups, and partnering with community leaders to improve children's health.

The program's mission is to develop a model of community pediatrics in which pediatricians collaborate with community-based organizations, work to assure the health of all children in their community, and advocate for their community to be more child-responsive and child-oriented.

Co-directors Jeff Kaczorowski, M.D., and Laura Jean Shipley, M.D., work at Children's Hospital at Strong and Panorama Pediatric Group. The program is run from offices at the Monroe County Health Department and Children's Hospital at Strong.

"That the Dyson Symposium is being held here is a tribute to our Department of Pediatrics, and its national reputation as a leader in community pediatrics, as well as to our community," Kaczorowski says. "I'm talking about those community-based organizations and foundations here who work to benefit children each and every day."

In addition to hosting the national conference, Pediatric Links with the Community will be honored next month with the 2001 American Academy of Pediatrics Professional Education Award, the highest honor for education in pediatrics. Steve Berman, M.D. president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, will present the award at the Academy's national meeting Oct. 20 in San Francisco. "We are proud that our program represents the best of what the future of pediatrics can be," Shipley says. "We're engaged in a partnership with the community to prevent disease and injury, and promote the health of all children in the Rochester area."

This isn't the first big award for Pediatric Links with the Community. Last year, the program was awarded the Ambulatory Pediatric Association's Outstanding Teaching Award, the highest teaching award given to members of the national organization of academic pediatricians. The Ambulatory Pediatric Association made the selection.

Pediatric Links with the Community has been so successful that it's being replicated throughout the U.S. For example, it has contributed to the development of similar programs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Denver Children's Hospital.

Pediatric Links with the Community doesn't generate any income, instead relying on grants secured by the program's directors. Local foundations including the Halcyon Hill Foundation, the Andrew J. Kirch Charitable Trust, and the Rochester Area Foundation have supported the program.

Pediatric Links with the Community has fostered relationships with a variety of community groups, including the Enrico Fermi (School No. 17) Health Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, Family Court, the Monroe County Department of Health, the Webster Avenue Family Resource Center, and Threshold Center for Alternative Youth Services. The program also serves rural children and their families through the Rural Opportunities Program.

"Each pediatric resident taking part in this program learns about community resources available to improve the health and quality of life of children and their families," Shipley says. "These future pediatricians learn skills to improve the health of children on a community level, such as preventing violence and child abuse."

More than 125 pediatric residents have participated in the PLC program, typically working with at least 15 community organizations during their two-week rotation. Select residents form longer-term relationships with community organizations to help children.

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