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Caring for kids
Federal grant to help children of Appalachian Ohio access health care

May 30, 2007
By Mary Reed

Young children and their families living in Appalachian Ohio will have greater access to coordinated, comprehensive health care thanks to a federal grant that will fund an innovative community-university partnership.

IPAC partners
  • Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine Community Health Programs
  • Southern Consortium for Children
  • Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling Services Inc.
  • Athens County Help Me Grow
  • Ohio University College of Health and Human Services Hearing, Speech and Language Clinic
  • Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences Psychology and Social Work Clinic
  • Athens County Department of Job and Family Services
  • Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development
  • Planned Parenthood of Southeast Ohio
  • Health Recovery Services Inc.
  • Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action
  • University Medical Associates
  • Family Healthcare Inc.
  • Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center
  • Athens County Family and Children First Council
The federal Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded a three-year, $540,000 grant to Ohio University to support Interprofessional Partners for Appalachian Children, an incorporated rural-health network.

IPAC is focused on improving the community's ability to identify, to refer and to provide comprehensive, coordinated care for young children with behavioral and developmental concerns, said Jane Hamel-Lambert, president and principal investigator of the program. She and her colleagues say first steps in improving care include increasing access to quality mental health services for young children and creating assessment teams that would include a physician, a mental health specialist, an audiologist, a speech therapist and a family-care advocate.

"Early childhood health and mental health services are available, but fragmented," said John Borchard of the Southern Consortium for Children and chairman of the IPAC board of directors. "You should have a door in the community that allows you access to an interdisciplinary assessment team."

To address those concerns, IPAC will train health-care and child-care providers to screen young children for developmental and socioemotional risk at primary care offices, preschools and childcare centers in Athens, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton counties. All four counties are federally designated as medically underserved areas.

"That speaks to the need in this area to provide some help with health service delivery," said Hamel-Lambert, who is also a faculty member in the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine's Department of Family Medicine.

The community-university structure of the initiative, she said, is one of its greatest strengths. Parent interviews and parent participation in planning committees have helped inform IPAC's development of innovative, culturally sensitive programs that address challenges to the physical and mental health of children in the Appalachian Ohio region.

Additionally, the partnership, which includes a dozen community agencies in addition to several Ohio University departments and clinics, blends the expertise of multiple professions, including early childhood mental health, medicine and speech-language pathology plus the resources of agencies that partner with the university.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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