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ACHRI Researchers to Organize Care System for Kids with Special Needs Using $880,000 Grant from Maternal & Child Health Bureau

ACHRI Researchers to Organize Care System for Kids with Special Needs Using $880,000 Grant from Maternal & Child Health Bureau

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Oct. 7, 2011) - Arkansas children with special heath care needs will benefit from a strengthened system of coordinated care after the Maternal and Child Health Bureau recently awarded the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) more than $880,000 to design the infrastructure.

The grant will allow physicians and other providers, as well as families and payers, to organize what has up to this point been a fragmented system of care. This will include creating easier access to comprehensive medical homes, specialty care services, family support groups and educational resources.

"If a family receives a special needs diagnosis, they should be able to figure out very quickly who their community supporters are, where they need to go for the child's therapies and where they can turn with questions about finances and insurance," said Dennis Kuo, MD, MHS, the project's lead researcher and an assistant professor of Pediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. "Everything has to be in one place and accessible, and that's what we'll be developing with this grant."

Over three years, the grant will fund development and maintenance of the statewide consortium and system for children and youth with special needs. It also will organize medical and developmental care services so families and professionals can gain easier access; build direct links to underserved families and those who don't speak English; foster technical assistance and quality improvements to provide medical homes for children with special needs; and develop resources to assist with transitions between pediatric and adult health care.

"We'll be looking at a tremendous network of resources that will be easily accessible for families and providers, and that won't stop when the grant finishes," Kuo said. "This will allow families to spend their time focusing on their child's care, rather than trying to figure out what exactly it is that they need and where to find it."

The project's outcomes will be measured against criteria set forth by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which is under the Health Resources and Services Administration.

While ACHRI will lead the project, efforts will be supported by partner organizations including Arkansas Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs, the Arkansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Arkansas Family-2-Family Health Information Center.

The partners' goal is that by the end of the grant's three-year funding, the system will be sustainable and the activities will continue through the institutions' own budgets and activities.

 "The quality of medicine today is benefitting many more babies who are surviving with quality lives. Those children with medically complex diseases who survive need a system of seamless care to help them achieve their maximum productivity and quality of life," said Richard F. Jacobs, MD, FAAP, ACHRI president and the Robert H. Fiser, Jr. MD, Professor and chairman of Pediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. "We are very proud of Dr. Kuo and his research that is going to make a difference in these children's lives."

Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children. The campus spans 29 city blocks and houses 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development. ACH recently ranked No. 75 on FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit www.archildrens.org.

ACHRI provides a research environment on the ACH campus to meet the needs of the UAMS faculty.  Research scientists at ACHRI conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses, preventing disease and improving the health of children everywhere. 

UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS' Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.

For more information on this release, please contact Hilary DeMillo in ACH Public Relations at (501) 364-6445 or at demillohh@archildrens.org.

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