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Jan. 14, 2016

New Pediatric Public Health Initiative to support the health of Flint children

Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital have announced a new Pediatric Public Health Initiative to address the Flint community’s population-wide lead exposure and help all Flint children grow up healthy and strong.

The Pediatric Public Health Initiative brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education, and includes the Genesee County Health Department, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and MSU Extension.

The intent is to address Flint’s widespread lead exposure from multiple fronts and provide the tools and resources for the assessment, continued research and monitoring, and interventions necessary for improving children’s health and development.

The foundation for this new initiative leverages MSU’s recently expanded Division of Public Health, supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which has brought new public health researchers to Flint and MSU College of Human Medicine’s 35-year medical education collaboration with Hurley Medical Center.

“MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital already have the infrastructure in place in Flint to support the Pediatric Public Health initiative,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “With the university’s research, education and outreach expertise supporting this model public health program, together we will help build a healthier, brighter future for Flint’s children.”

“As the region’s premier public teaching facility, Hurley Children’s Hospital is so pleased to be joining MSU as part of this vital initiative. We take our responsibility of advocating for children very seriously, and we look forward to the role that we will have in this essential initiative,” added Melany Gavulic, president and CEO of Hurley Medical Center.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of pediatric residency at Hurley Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at MSU College of Human Medicine, will lead the joint venture.

“The creation of this Pediatric Public Health Initiative will give Flint children a better chance at future success,” she said. “This initiative will bring in a team of experts to build a model pediatric public health program which will continue to assess, monitor and intervene to optimize children’s outcomes.”

The initiative will employ evidence-based interventions for inclusion in its response to the Flint water lead exposure. Three overarching areas are education, nutrition and medical/health.

MSU Extension nutrition staff members have already worked with Hurley Medical Center to provide nutrition education, including recipes high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C—all of which help block the absorption of lead into the body. They have also held cooking demonstrations at the Flint Farmers’ Market. These recipes are shared through MSU Extension’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed).

The MSU College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health will support the Pediatric Public Health Initiative at its downtown Flint location.


By: Geri Kelley