Dismiss Modal

Inside Pediatrics Podcast

BIRMINGHAM – Children’s of Alabama and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine have joined a network of children’s hospitals across the country that will coordinate on the response to future pandemics and other disasters. Through a $29 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN) will focus on unique needs and challenges to children during pandemics and disasters, ensuring that health equity is at the forefront of emergency planning. 

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. The new grant doubles the size and reach of the network. UAB and Children’s of Alabama join lead institution Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., along with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and Seattle Children’s. 

Mitch Cohen, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Pediatrics, and Tamera Coyne-Beasley, M.D., vice chair for Community Engagement at Children's of Alabama and UAB, serve as co-principal investigators for UAB and Children's of Alabama.

“We are delighted to work with our colleagues at other leading children’s hospitals and oversee the efforts to ensure that local and national responses to pandemics properly address the needs of children, adolescents and families, especially those of color,” Cohen said.

The hospitals recognize that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the entire world, the pediatric population has been challenged by a lack of established coordination among pediatric care providers. In addition to addressing health equity, the network 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, all of which are typically provided by community organizations

“As the current pandemic has proved to the world, pandemics and public health crises magnify preexisting environmental, health, social and economic inequities,” said Joelle Simpson, M.D., 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.”

About Children’s of Alabama
Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient, outpatient and primary care throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. Children’s is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians, as well as private practicing community physicians.

About UAB
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a part of the University of Alabama System, is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center with over $600 million in research awards annually, as well as Alabama’s largest single employer, with some 26,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $7.15 billion on the state. The pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, innovation and economic development, community engagement, and patient care. Learn more at www.uab.edu.