Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Community Access to Children's Health

Category: Access To Children's Health Care


As a practicing pediatrician and pediatric allergist for 13 years in a very poor part of South Louisiana, I have seen on a first hand basis the difficulty many patients face in getting basic pediatric care. My goal and hope for all children in America is that we might truly find a medical home, (in other words, a pediatrician, a family doctor, a nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or other trained professional in pediatric medicine) to provide good comprehensive health care for each child in America. In working toward that goal, we recently organized a CATCH (Community Access to Children's Health) banquet in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is the first in the state of Louisiana and hopefully the first of many.

At our CATCH banquet we had about half of the pediatricians who are in practice in the greater Lafayette community. Also all four major hospitals were represented with either administrators and/or representative nurses, or heads of pediatric departments. There were also several other allied health personnel there such as the head of speech and learning at the University of Southwest Louisiana in Lafayette. Also present were several nurses from the health units, the school system, and the KidMed clinics. The banquet started off with a moving talk by Maria Placier, a local CBS TV celebrity who is a known and respected child advocate. Second to speak was Dr. Jean Takanaka, our Louisiana CATCH facilitator, who drove in from New Orleans. We then opened the floor to everyone present in a round table fashion going completely around the horseshoe tables. All 40 participants spoke.

The discussion was very frank and active and every single person present shared their feelings about the pediatric needs that were not being well met, and offered some suggestions as to a solution. We set over twenty goals and agreed to meet again on a regular basis in three separate groups. The first group would be the pediatricians themselves with any representatives from the other groups who wanted to join us. The second group would be personnel from the four hospitals, and the third group is all other allied health personnel with representatives from the physician group guiding them. We are excited about the prospect of all working together for a common goal of doing a better job of pediatric health care and particularly, comprehensive health care and prevention than we have done in the past in the Lafayette area.

I think CATCH is a wonderful concept and encompasses what Hillary Clinton said in her keynote speech at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics convention which is that all health transition should be mission driven and community based. I encourage every pediatrician in America to get involved with CATCH in their communities and to open up better lines of communication so that we can all do a better job and not wait for the government to do it for us. The AAP, which started CATCH will help you organize. Call the American Academy of Pediatrics at (708) 981-4728 and ask for the department handling CATCH (Community Access To Children's Health.)