Preliminary findings from NACHRI's FOCUS on a Fitter Future were the subject of an afternoon session within the Child Advocacy track. Wendy Slussler, MD of Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA and Megan Lipton, MA of Children's Hospital Los Angeles presented on behalf of the 15 member hospitals who participated in this 18-month effort.
While the FOCUS Group looked at a wide range of clinical and infrastructure issues within children's hospital's weight management programs, today's talk focused in on a few of these areas: Payment/Sustainability and Hospital Environment.
Dr. Slusser began her presentation by covering some of the complicated reasons behind the rise in childhood obesity as well as the challenges for treatment, including one of the greatest challenges - payment. The payment subgroup has developed several tools to help others advocate for improved payment for weight management programs including a power point template and fact sheet that will be available to be utilized for advocating with both public and private payers.
Hospital Environment is another hot topic that was covered during this session. This was one of the largest subgroups in the FOCUS Group as Megan described that many "felt so strongly that we need to provide a culture of optimal health within our hospitals. We knew we really needed to 'walk the walk' "
Megan discussed recommendations for the hospital environment to improve wellness for not only patients, but also visitors and employees. One of the biggest challenges for hospitals now is in their physical environment and establishing a safe environment for an obese patient and family including physical and emotional safety.
The hospital environment committee has compiled recommendations and examples of positive steps hospitals are taking including healthy menus, walking maps of their campus, and more. Megan concluded by sharing the belief of her subcommittee that "creating a culture of wellness makes obvious sense for our mission as well as for our hospitals' bottom line."
This hour long session really just scratched the surface of an issues that is gaining attention within our hospitals as well as on the public policy front. FOCUS on a Fitter Future plans to make all of their findings available in the coming months to NACHRI members through the website as well as to others in the medical community through a supplement to Pediatrics and presentations in multiple venues. Stay tuned for more from this dynamic group!