Charlotte pilot program with Atrium Health and Novant Health supports state's goal to address social, economic and environmental health to improve child and family health outcomes
The Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) announced it is partnering with two leading U.S. health systems in the Southeast to launch a screening program on childhood adversity.
CYW's National Pediatric Practice Community (NPPC) has done on-site training at the headquarters of Atrium Health and Novant Health in Charlotte, N.C., in preparation for trauma screening at six pediatric clinics across the city.
The Charlotte-based health systems' goal is to mitigate the lifelong health impact of exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which includes abuse, neglect, and separation from a parent or caregiver.
"CYW is thrilled to be working with Atrium Health and Novant Health to support their leadership in addressing early-life adversity and well-being in the Charlotte community," said Jim Hickman, Chief Executive Officer. "A key objective of our NPPC work is to provide effective technical assistance and coaching to help pediatric practices successfully implement childhood adversity screening and resilience building techniques in their communities."
The pilot screening project supports the State of North Carolina's larger effort to address stressful or traumatic experiences that can undermine overall health according to a recent Center for Disease Control report. These stressors include social factors, such as housing instability, food insecurity, discrimination, and community violence.
Novant Health has been actively screening for ACEs and has led public education efforts about the effects of childhood adversity and trauma, including a free community showing of the documentary Resilience. The health system also recently received a generous donation from Michael Jordan to build two health clinics to serve Charlotte's most at-risk communities, one of which opened this October in West Charlotte.
"We are proud to partner with the Center for Youth Wellness in an effort to screen and identify patients suffering from adverse childhood experiences," said Dr. James M. DuRant III, leader of the Novant Health Center for Pediatric Development. "Novant Health is committed to eliminating health equity gaps, which is why we are bringing integrated care models with social workers who screen for ACEs in communities where we know they are much more prevalent."
After piloting screening for childhood adversity and trauma in the city of Charlotte, the partnership plans to eventually expand screening at Atrium Health Levine Children's and Novant Health pediatric clinics across the state. The goal is to make screening for adversity as common as screening for developmental milestones.
The importance of screening is underscored by findings that ACEs are a public health crisis. Research shows that toxic stress from ACES can affect brain development, hormones, the immune system, and even the way DNA is read and transcribed.
Dr. Leena Singh, NPPC Director describes these preventative measures as extraordinarily important.
"It's critical for pediatric clinicians to focus on preventing and treating the effects of childhood adversity in order to improve health outcomes for children and families," said Singh. "Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, can lead to toxic stress, which affects children's immune, hormonal and neurological systems, and is a potential root cause of some of our most costly diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and depression."
In addition, the more ACEs a child has, the greater the risk for chronic disease and substance abuse later in life. The economic toll of ACEs is estimated to be billions of dollars a year, according to the NC Medical Journal. However, scientists have found that early intervention, positive childhood experiences and buffering from caring adults can reduce and sometimes eliminate the impact of ACEs.
Atrium Health notes that the NPPC's Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Screening Implementation Pilot Project comes on the heels of a newly integrated social determinants of health screening that Atrium Health embedded into its electronic health records. These screenings will enable clinicians and providers to understand the effects of a patient's social and economic status to provide a more personalized approach to care to fit each individual patient's needs and connect them to resources to improve health.
In addition, Atrium Health Levine Children's leaders say their adoption of NPCC's screening program will deepen their understanding of their patients and how they can better support them.
"The environment in which children grow, play, learn and live can fundamentally change their biology and ultimately shape their long-term health outcomes. As pediatricians and clinicians, we see first-hand how adverse childhood experiences in these environments affect brain development, psychosocial and behavioral health, as well as physical health," said Shivani Mehta, MD, MPH of Atrium Health Levine Children's Myers Park Pediatrics. "Our new partnership with NPPC to implement screening for childhood adversity will enable us to identify and treat the effects of toxic stress and trauma, continue to build resilience among the children and families we care for, and provide a holistic, trauma-informed approach to care to further advance the health of our communities' children."
This article was originally published here.
About the Center for Youth Wellness and its National Pediatric Practice Community
The Center for Youth Wellness is part of a national effort to revolutionize pediatric medicine and transform the way society responds to kids exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress. CYW's National Pediatric Practice Community on Adverse Childhood Experiences (NPPC) is a peer group of pioneering pediatric-serving medical practitioners supporting each other in expanding knowledge, building capacity, and shaping the field of ACEs research and trauma-informed care. To learn more about ACEs screening and joining the NPPC, visit nppcaces.org. For information about the Center for Youth Wellness, visit centerforyouthwellness.org.
About Atrium Health
Atrium Health (www.atriumhealth.org), previously Carolinas HealthCare System, one of the nation's leading and most innovative health care organizations, provides a full spectrum of health care and wellness programs throughout the Southeast region. Its diverse network of care locations includes academic medical centers, hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, physician practices, surgical and rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, nursing homes and behavioral health centers, as well as hospice and palliative care services. Atrium Health works to enhance the overall health and well-being of its communities through high-quality patient care, education and research programs, and numerous collaborative partnerships and initiatives.
About Novant Health
Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,600 physicians and over 28,000 employees that provide care at over 640 locations, including 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. In 2019, Forbes ranked the organization first in North Carolina and 38th nationally on its 2019 Best Employers for Diversity list. Novant Health provided more than $883 million in community benefit, including financial assistance and services, in 2018. Interested parties can learn more about them at NovantHealth.org or on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.