Kansas City,
17:02 PM

Children's Mercy hosts Children's Health Summit to assess community needs

Improving the health of the Kansas City region’s children was the focus on March 11 when Children’s Mercy hosted nearly 200 representatives from health care, public health, academia, government, social service, community and private sector partners at a conference titled Children’s Health Summit: Advancing Health Across the Region.

The day-long meeting, held at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, presented data from The State of Children’s Health: 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment for the Kansas City Region (to be released May 2016) conducted by Children’s Mercy.


“Conference attendees participated in important discussions to set priorities, identify opportunities and develop collective next steps to advance the health of our region’s most important asset—children,” said Margo Quiriconi, MPH, RN, Director-Community Health Initiatives at Children’s Mercy. After hearing a presentation on the Community Health Needs Assessment, attendees participated in a priority-setting process that identified 11 issues affecting health in the K.C. region: mental behavioral health; early education; infant mortality; access to health; employment; violence; food insecurity; poverty; parent support; obesity; and housing.

“Children’s Mercy will evaluate those 11 priorities and determine where we can have the greatest impact,” Margo said.

A 'defining moment'

David Westbrook, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, offered the following comments on this initiative.

"We are the only institution in the region that conducts such a comprehensive assessment of the health needs of the pediatric population here," David said. "But we cannot be and must not be the only institution in the region that addresses those needs. No single entity can do it alone.

"By exercising our remarkable convening authority, we have brought together the agencies, the individuals, the government organizations, and the philanthropies that can combine efforts to make a real impact on the health and well-being of our community's children. The needs assessment is the conscience that drives us to develop a plan. The plan will be coordinated so those organizations with the greatest strengths can be deployed to achieve the greatest impact. We take on a tremendous responsibility when we facilitate this process. We must do it with finesse, with respect for our partners, and with an ever-mindful focus on making sure the outcomes are beneficial to our children today so our community can be populated with healthy adults tomorrow.

"Metropolitan Kansas City is well known for its high regard for the well-being of its children. This exercise brings that sentiment the all-important science needed to make all of us accountable for doing not only what feels right, but what is right for the health of our kids.

"I look forward to the results of this summit and the strategic plan that will be put into place this summer to achieve progress. This is truly a defining moment in the health history of our community's children."

Participant reaction

The summit generated a number of positive comments from those who attended.Molly Krager, MD, Hospital Medicine, said, "As a pediatric hospitalist, I often see inequities in the health status of my patients that are related to social and environmental factors. It was exciting to see Children’s Mercy not only recognize social determinants of health in the needs assessment, but also take action to seek meaningful change. As the diverse group of community leaders at the summit discussed top priorities and ideas for potential solutions, it was clear that we will be able to learn from each other’s perspectives and work together to positively impact the health of kids in Kansas City."


"We are the only institution in the region that conducts such a comprehensive assessment of the health needs of the pediatric population here. But we cannot be and must not be the only institution in the region that addresses those needs. No single entity can do it alone."
David Westbrook, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Innovation

Genny Nicholas, CM Vice President of Government Relations, said, “The Children’s Health Summit was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with our community partners on the most important issues facing the children of our region. It not only provided a wealth of information for those attending but it also created an environment of cooperation cultivated by Children’s Mercy.”

A highlight of the summit was poet Unique Hughley, who provided the "youth voice" to the summit by opening and closing the event with poems. Unique, a graduate of the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in KCMO, frequently speaks on the challenges and opportunities facing youth.

Summit attendees also shared comments on Twitter, such as:

  • “[We’ve] got 200 community and health leaders coming up with solutions to public health disparities in K.C. That’s cool!"
  • "Zip Code is the greatest predictor of health outcomes…even more than DNA.”
  • “One in five K.C. area families worry about running out of food before they can afford more.”“We have to stop thinking of poverty as an unsolvable problem.”

For more information about the meeting follow the Twitter feed at #kidshealthkc.