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Children’s Greatest Needs at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital

Which fund can make the biggest impact at Mary Bridge? Where the Need Is Greatest.

The power of Where the Need Is Greatest comes from its flexibility.

The needs and advancements in children’s health care can change rapidly. Laws affecting Medicaid reimbursements can change (and nearly 70 percent of kids served at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital are Medicaid recipients). New medical discoveries, best practices, and advancements in technology can emerge and evolve at any time. And opportunities for expanding access to care to new communities can arise at a moments’ notice.

The best hospitals adapt to change quickly. That’s precisely the gift Where the Need Is Greatest provides to Mary Bridge — it’s an unrestricted fund, available at the ready to support our children’s greatest medical needs.

Even more, decisions about how to use Where the Need Is Greatest funding are in the hands of our community — the same community that has been behind every major advancement and milestone at Mary Bridge. The Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation Board of Directors, including passionate volunteers from our community, determines where children’s needs are greatest every year and allocates funds accordingly.

The following programs are some examples of those that have recently received funding from Where the Need Is Greatest:

Treating victims of child abuse and neglect. The Children’s Advocacy Center and Mary Bridge Children’s Child Abuse Intervention Department treat and support about 1,700 abused and mistreated infants and children annually.

Preventing neglect and abuse of medically fragile babies. Children with special needs are four times more likely to be neglected or abused. Our Parenting Partnership program works with at-risk families when a baby leaves our NICU to provide education and encouragement through home visits, nurse oversight, and support groups. It is nationally recognized as an innovative program with a measurable success rate of 90 – 94% for managing parental stress and facilitating the child’s development.

Helping kids with asthma. Clean Air for Kids is an asthma management program. 20,000 children in Pierce County have asthma, which can make kids very sick — and is sometimes fatal. It is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood and the third leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15 years old. This program assesses the child’s environment for asthma triggers and provides home visits, group classes, education, and supplies to manage the disease.

Inflammatory disease in children. Improve Care Now is a network of 73 clinics in 34 states that work collectively to standardize care and treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These are chronic and costly conditions, but the more effective management of the disease in kids can significantly reduce suffering and the number of times they are hospitalized. The program has improved early diagnosis from 40% to 90%, reduced the number of children with unsatisfactory growth by 60%, and decreased the number of kids needing to remain on prednisone by 30%. Mary Bridge treats 250 children annually for this condition―and the numbers are growing.

Care for infants and children born with cleft lip /cleft palate and other oral/facial anomalies. This program brings a team of experts together monthly, including plastic surgeons, oral surgeons, orthodontists, speech pathologists otolaryngologists, social workers, and nurses, to review cases and recommend treatment for patients who come from 12 counties throughout Southwest Washington. Children with these conditions typically require multiple surgeries during their infancy, childhood and teen years, as well as ongoing speech and hearing services.

Preventing accidental injuries. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 – 14, mostly from car accidents, and 90% of these are preventable. The Center for Childhood Safety focuses on education and community outreach regarding passenger safety (proper use of car seats and seatbelts). A high number of babies in Pierce County die because of suffocation and unsafe sleep habits, so the Center also provides safe sleep education, as well as information and latches to prevent falls from windows, encouraging bike helmet use and teaching water safety. Physicians in our emergency department have noted a decrease in the number of children with injuries, including 50% fewer falls from windows ― and the only thing they can point to is the Center for Childhood Safety.

Mobile immunization clinic. This program provides free immunizations, at convenient locations (such as the South Hill Mall) throughout the community, especially at the beginning of the school year and flu season. Nurses administer about 12,000 free vaccines every year.

BRIDGES: A Center for Grieving Children. The death of a parent, brother or sister is a life-changing and often devastating event for a child. BRIDGES exists because children grieve differently than adults. The goal is to help the child understand grief and improve child-parent interaction to prevent long-term emotional problems, physical symptoms, isolation and poor school performance. It is the only grief support program for children in Pierce County and serves the entire region, including military families.