Camden School Nurse-Pediatric Roundtable to explore early life trauma

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By Amy Yuen

The Camden Coalition will host the first meeting of the New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics’(NJAAP) School Nurse-Pediatric Roundtable on Thursday, October 25. Initially convened by the Camden Coalition, this quarterly roundtable brings together Camden school nurses, pediatric practices, and the community to ensure coordinated care for the city’s most vulnerable children. Now, NJAAP is taking on the roundtable to help school nurses and pediatric healthcare teams bridge silos and expand cross-sector collaborations by linking schools to medical homes.

School nurses are part of pediatric primary health care teams, and enhancing communication between school nurses and pediatricians is key to caring for children and supporting their families, said Kyle Shupp, Program Manager of Safety and Trauma Informed Care Initiatives for NJAAP

“Children spend most of their day in school and see their pediatricians routinely fourteen times in the first five years,” said Kyle. “Pediatric health teams, inclusive of school nurses, work together to promote prevention, wellness, and chronic care management. We hope that by opening the dialogue between the nurses and pediatricians, care will be better coordinated for the student and we could treat the child as a whole person. We also intend for this focus to reach children in the community whose health needs are underserved.”

NJAAP’s pilot program, Healthy SPPACEs (Strengthening Pediatric Partners: Adverse Childhood Experiences), will facilitate the quarterly roundtable meetings to be held at the Camden Coalition. The program’s staff worked closely with Robin Cogan, a veteran school nurse with the Camden City School District, to shape the focus of the roundtable, which explores adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines ACEs as “stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect.”

“Research has shown that children with six or more ACEs in the first 18 years of life have a life expectancy of about 20 years less than someone with less than six ACEs,” said Dr. Steven Kairys, Medical Director for NJAAP. “But if we practice trauma-informed care, protective factors can mitigate the long-term health risks for children. We want to open that dialogue between pediatricians, school staff, and the community as a whole, so they can have these conversations with children and their families about issues they might need help with.”

Healthy SPPACEs aims to strengthen the relationship between school nurses and pediatricians to prevent violence and improve the access and quality of care for Camden children and families. The program is partnering with Mi Casita Family School to provide educational outreach to school administrators and staff about ACEs and the impact of trauma on learning and behavior. In January, the program will provide continuing medical education outreach to the CAMcare pediatric healthcare team on screening and identifying children and families who are at risk for ACEs during patient visits. Support and connections to local resources will also be integrated. NJAAP is seeking resources to expand its efforts to more schools and practices in the city of Camden.

The School-Nurse Pediatric Roundtable grew out of our early work with our Accountable Care Organization and 7-Day Pledge program, where we found that many pediatric patients were using the emergency department more than once a month for issues that are best addressed by primary care.

“School nurses are a valuable part of our citywide care team. More coordination between school nurses and pediatricians is critical for taking care of some of our city’s kids,” said Natasha Dravid, Director for Clinical Redesign Initiatives for the Camden Coalition. “It’s really exciting that another organization is formally picking up this convening that started at the Coalition. We love that NJAAP is rebooting this valuable convening for our community.”

The School Nurse-Pediatric Roundtable is open to the public and will be held Thursday, October 25 from 7:30 to 9 am at the Camden Coalition office at 800 Cooper Street, 8th Floor in Camden, NJ. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here. The meeting agenda for the roundtable is available on our website.

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