Lanre Omojokun Falusi, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician at Children’s National Health System and Associate Medical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs at Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI), will tell attendees of the American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 National Conference that “poverty really is a public health issue.”
For any child, and particularly children living in poverty, adverse experiences during childhood are linked to health conditions that can linger for much of their adult lives.
While pediatricians are challenged by high case loads, Dr. Falusi believes that there is a place within the doctor visit for a discussion about such social determinants of health. Team-based care provides an opening for such conversations.
In some cases, pediatricians may feel out of their element. “It’s a very natural feeling: The best interventions to alleviate poverty are not the issues that doctors are used to working on,” she says. On the other side of the continuum are clinicians who try to take a lion’s share of the load. “Many pediatricians trained in hospitals that are very work-focused, and even I still fight the urge of saying ‘I myself need to fix this. It’s my job to make their health better.’ ”
But social workers, who are trained in identifying such resources, and nurses are also integral members of the healthcare team. It would be equally natural for a referral to a food pantry or an application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to come from these team members.
It’s a shift in mentality, refocusing on the patient’s broader needs that may impact health, rather than the narrow symptoms caused by those health concerns.
AAP 2016 presentation:
Saturday, October 22, 2016
- I1161- “Place Matters: Addressing the Needs of Children in Poverty in Rural and Urban Settings” 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.