Children’s Mercy Kansas City and four other leading children’s hospitals secure $29M in federal funding to enhance future pandemic readiness
Children’s Mercy Kansas City and a network of children’s hospitals from across the country will coordinate on the response to future pandemics and other disasters through a new $29 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The group, known as the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN), will focus on the unique needs and challenges to children during pandemics and disasters, ensuring that health equity is at the forefront of emergency planning.
In addition to Children’s Mercy Kansas City the hospitals include:
- Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. (lead institution)
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics at Children’s of Alabama
- Seattle Children’s
“As a key member of this network, Children’s Mercy brings expertise and leadership in emergency management and response, infectious diseases, community engagement, and health equity,” said Jennifer Watts, MD, MPH and PPN principal investigator for Children’s Mercy along with Angela Myers, MD, MPH. “We are honored to be selected as part of the PPN to support our region and ensure future preparedness.”
The hospitals recognize that while the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the entire world, the pediatric population in particular has been challenged by a lack of established coordination among pediatric care providers. In addition to addressing health equity, the funding facilitates the following:
- Establishing pathways to gather and disseminate research-informed insights into how to care for children in a future pandemic to both medical providers and community organizations.
- Developing a telehealth infrastructure to support the care of acutely ill children and expand mental health access.
- Expanding pediatric-focused emergency preparedness and planning with a focus on behavioral health, social support, and educational services.
“As the current pandemic has proven to the world, pandemics and public health crises magnify pre-existing environmental, health, social and economic inequities,” said Joelle Simpson, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator of the grant, division chief of Emergency Medicine and medical director of Emergency Preparedness at Children’s National. “Communities of color not only feel the impact of pandemics and disasters far more severely than others, but also have more difficulty obtaining aid and assistance. If the needs of vulnerable populations are not addressed in emergency planning, the national disaster preparedness strategy could fail for all.”
In September 2021, HRSA launched the Regional PPN by funding five pediatric hospitals to support the planning and preparation of children’s hospitals to respond to a global health threat. This new grant doubles the size and reach of the network in order to benefit all children in the nation.