At Boston Children's Hospital, our commitment to helping children stay healthy and safe goes far beyond our walls. We believe that for children to be healthy, our community must be healthy too.
We also believe that communication is a key factor in developing a healthy relationship with our patients and our neighboring communities.
Access to care
As a community hospital for children, we're responsible for making sure that all children have access to physical and mental health care. Children's believes that no child in the state should be turned away due to the inability to pay. In fact, we are the largest provider of medical care to low-income children in Massachusetts -- a third of the children who come to us are uninsured or have public coverage.
Children's also provides, or supports others who provide, those vital, hospital-subsidized services that are either not available elsewhere or are only available in limited capacity, such as primary care, mental health services, dental care and child protection.
In 2009, Children's provided more than:
- 524,780 outpatient visits
- 24,971 inpatient and observation visits
- 61,631 emergency room visits
- 25,719 inpatient and day surgical procedures
Community team work
We also recognize and support the many other health care providers in the community -- including community health centers -- that have an enormous impact on keeping our community healthy. In addition to owning and operating the Martha Eliot Health Center in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Children's provides $1 million annually to 11 Boston community health centers.
Through schools, community health centers and community-based organizations, Children's is reaching an estimated 15,000 children, youth, parents and caregivers. We're also helping other groups throughout Boston that strive to provide a wide range of services to children and families in need. Since 2000, Children's has supported more than 100 organizations through financial and in-kind contributions.
We're focusing our attention on four major health issues that affect children in our city:
- mental health
- injury prevention
To do this, we partner with and support the work of health centers, schools and community groups. Visit the Community Benefits website to learn more about our partnerships.
Major health areas of concentration
Asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization at Children's. We're working to keep children with asthma healthy and active by giving them access to asthma-friendly activities, and providing case management and home visits to help families identify triggers.
One out of five children will develop a mental health concern, and only one of every five children who develop a concern will receive help. It can also be difficult for families to find and access culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
To meet the growing need for easy-to-access and culturally appropriate care, Children's is providing services where children need them most -- in their schools and communities. We're providing counseling to students and supporting teachers and school staff, as well as placing bilingual and bicultural psychiatrists in health centers where families feel most comfortable.
Injuries are one of the leading causes of death for children in Massachusetts. To help prevent them, Children's trains home visitors to help families identify injury risks, and provides education and distributes bike helmets and car seats to encourage regular and proper use.
We also provide specialized care for people who may be victims of abuse or neglect. To address the issue of violence, Children's committed nearly $1 million in 2006 to provide summer jobs for youth, increase access to recreational programs and support violence prevention efforts at health centers.
Children struggling with obesity or being overweight need access to specialty medical services, nutrition education and recreational opportunities. Children's is providing treatment, as well as offering prevention programs and supporting health centers and recreational programs, to engage children in culturally competent learning opportunities about good nutrition and fitness.
Influencing public policy
Influencing public policy to improve child health is also an important aspect of Children's commitment to community health. The hospital advocates for several matters that affect children's health, such as improving asthma care, promoting proper school nutrition and making quality mental health care more available.
Children's is an influential and outspoken advocate for children in Boston and Massachusetts. We've been a leading supporter of enrollment activities that reach low-income children, as well as cultural and linguistic minorities. We've also worked with advocacy groups over the past decade to assure affordability and broaden the health services available in local communities.
It's been a key part of Children's mission for more than 130 years to improve community health through partnerships and innovative programs. In the years ahead, we'll continue to pursue our vision of healthy children, healthy communities, ensuring that all children can access health care and supporting community efforts, so children can grow up healthy.