Pediatrician, Director, Adolescent Center, St. Louis Children's Hospital
Patient Oriented Research
Personal Summary: I have chosen to focus my career on changing health for disadvantaged populations through patient care, teaching and advocacy and research. In pursuing these areas I recognize change can be made at the individual level with high risk adolescent patients, at the regional level by teaching residents to consider the complexity of patients living in poverty or patients with special health care needs, and at the state and national level through systemic advocacy for policy change. The link between these areas is central to my participation in the development of the SPOT, a youth specific a drop in center, to serve the health and social service needs of 13-24 year olds. For the past nine years I have provided medical care to adolescents with HIV infection and to adolescents with other high risk behaviors. I have also over the years cared for many patients in the foster care system. These efforts have engaged me in collaborative planning with the State, county and city health departments to combat the spread of STD’s and HIV and work collaboratively on prevention efforts. Our SAMHSA grant allows us to offer more HIV testing and prevention programs under the Minority Substance Abuse/HIV Prevention Initiative and we are underway in our research funded evidence based prevention programs this year. I have also worked with the state Department of Social Services on issues related to children and youth in foster care. I have spoken at the Governor’s Blue Ribbon panel around health issues for youth in foster care and I have helped the Department rewrite their policy and criteria for children and youth placed in medical foster care. I have also worked extensively with community partners who serve youth in foster care and youth in general.
I joined the Washington University Department of Pediatrics in 2000 to develop its advocacy program and as an attending physician in the Adolescent Center, which I now direct. I founded the pediatric residency training program called Pediatricians in Community. The rotation involves half day and whole day site visits to the 35 community based organizations that participate. The purpose of the rotation is to better understand and learn how to meet the needs of children living in poverty and children with special health care needs. I have also been heavily involved in advocacy for children's health care in Missouri. During my Soros Fellowship, I organized and won a presumptive eligibility campaign in Missouri to provide 90,000 uninsured, income-eligible children with immediate access to the Medicaid and CHIP health-insurance program. Since then I have testified in the capital, rallied with community organizations and encouraged residents to write letters to political leaders to insure access to health care and better health outcomes for children and adolescents.