This has been a great year for the Pediatric Health Improvement Coalition of the Tennessee Valley (PHIC). We have completed our Strategic Planning Initiative (SPI), begun the process of building strong community pediatric interest groups, continued work on our comprehensive regional health improvement plan and facilitated partnership with many community organizations to move toward a healthier Tennessee Valley.
In December of 2013, PHIC contracted Blue Cottage Consulting of Ann Arbor, MI to lead the SPI. This initiative was a catalyst to a rigorous cycle of analysis, discussion and innovative design in regard to the health and well being of our community’s children.
First, an initial study of the Tennessee Valley pediatric market was completed. This data documented significant deficiencies in local inpatient and subspecialty infrastructure compared to close market competitors. It also defined discrete community gaps in primary and urgent care that correlated with our poorest and highest health risk zip codes.
In the visioning phase, the project team completed 52 stakeholder interviews with health, business, education, government, non-profit and community leaders. These conversations clarified the leadership’s vision of current child health and documented the level of commitment to the future.
The project team also directed four neighborhood listening forums in Dalton, GA; Hixson; Alton Park and East Chattanooga. These forums defined the participating parents, school nurses and community health advocates’ perception of our primary pediatric issues. From these sessions, PHIC has continued the development of three community pediatric advocacy groups. These include the East Chattanooga, Alton Park and Parents of Chronically Ill Children.
From our analysis and community input, PHIC advanced the conversation around improving delivery, access and provider partnership. PHIC has clearly defined the benefits of greater provider partnership and provider-Children’s Hospital partnership.
Finally, PHIC has developed a strategic plan for expanded school-based health, provider-school communication and community education standardization. The initial implementation of this plan around asthma has already begun.
It is exciting to see how much PHIC has matured this year. The board has transitioned from a planning board to one that is now implementing our first round of projects. The diversity of gender, race and profession has improved. We have hired an Executive Assistant, Kimbilee Jonas, to work on day-to-day activity and promote our communication.
The primary challenges have become very clear. These are severe disparity in pediatric healthcare and outcomes, obesity, asthma, peri-natal health, infant mortality, school readiness and behavioral health. The leadership has moved from a conversation focused on what doesn’t exist in the Tennessee Valley. The new conversation is the narrative of leveraging our current resources to address these real challenges in an impactful and sustained way.
I was surprised this year by the many pediatric efforts already present in our community. It is encouraging to see individuals; often non-health licensed respected community members, performing essential pediatric health services. It was also discouraging how many of these individuals and larger programs were siloed, non-cooperative, overlapping and competing for resources. To this end, PHIC is helping to build partnerships for better function and document impact data to help sustain ongoing work.
It has been a joy to see the PHIC vision come to exist in reality. There is a growing community in the Tennessee Valley committed to improving the health and well being of all children. There is now increased discussion and new partnership between many community partners: the Bethlehem Center, Le Paz, Chattanooga State, UTC, Siskin, the Hamilton County Department of Education, the Hamilton County Department of Health, Children’s at Erlanger, the Children’s Discovery Museum, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Healthcare Improvement Initiative for Tennessee.
PHIC is excited for the New Year and beyond. Specifically, we project that the next three years will have some discrete outcomes. First, the Ambulatory component of the Erlanger System’s Capital Building Program will receive input on components that meet health gaps in our community. Second, the pediatric community health will have a robust input from the Hispanic, Black and Families of Children With Special Healthcare Needs communities. Next, our region will have a better tool for identifying community health resources that are culturally relevant and available for more families. Lastly, Asthma will have a significantly decreased impact on Chattanooga children. This will be evident in increase school attendance, academic improvement, fewer emergent transports from school to the Emergency Department for Asthma and fewer total Emergency Department visits for Asthma.
PHIC is a community organization. It is your tool to improve our children’s health and well being. We could not have had the year we had in 2014 without you involvement and financial support. Thank you!
I encourage you to partner with us in 2015 on projects in which you find interest. We appreciate your continued financial support. This work cannot go forward without the financial resources to impact the barriers to health that exist in our community. Please consider making PHIC apart of your charitable giving plan. Online donations can be made through the Pediatric Health Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga at https://cfgc.caritas247.com/Donate.aspx?dcid=PHF.
R. Allen Coffman, Jr., MD, FAAP
The Pediatric Health Improvement Coalition of the TN Valley