Families Converge on Capitol Hill to Demonstrate Support for Children's Hospitals

Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital Patient Dorothy May Aragonés and Her Family Meet With Elected Officials in Washington, D.C.

Jun 17, 2008


Twenty-nine patient families from across the U.S. will travel to Washington, D.C., to speak with federal lawmakers about an issue of vital importance to them — the fate of children's health care and the essential role that children's hospitals play in the community. The meeting is part of national Family Advocacy Day, June 18 and 19, coordinated by the National Association of Children's Hospitals (N.A.C.H.).

One of those making the trip is 8-year-old Dorothy May Aragonés, a patient at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, and her mother, Kimberly McCollum. Dorothy was diagnosed at birth with a congenital heart defect. According to her mother, if it were not for three open-heart operations performed at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, Dorothy might not be alive today.

The Aragonés family is concerned about health care coverage, costs and continued access to the specialized and high quality of care provided by children's hospitals. Currently pending in Congress is a bill that would stop implementation of rule changes to Medicaid totaling $12 billion to $15 billion in cuts to health coverage for children. These proposed changes would drastically reduce important health care programs such as rehabilitation services and transportation of disabled children to and from schools. Furthermore, these cuts could curtail the delivery of health care services needed by children with some of the most serious health care needs.

"Our ability to provide the highest quality of care takes a strong commitment from our legislative leaders to prioritize treatment for all children, including those, like Dorothy, with serious medical conditions," says Cynthia Sparer, executive director of Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian.

"Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian plays a crucial role in our community, providing innovative medical services and medical training tailored specifically to the needs of our children," says Ms. McCullum. "We are headed to Washington to show lawmakers our serious concern about the proposed cuts, to tell our stories and champion the local children's hospitals that have saved our children's lives."

"Children's hospitals provide care to the sickest and most vulnerable children in our nation, with approximately half of all patient care in children's hospitals paid for by Medicaid," says Lawrence McAndrews, president and CEO of the N.A.C.H. "Medicaid cuts of this type would hinder our ability to provide clinical care, training and pediatric health research that benefits children, particularly children with the most complex medical conditions."

The children participating in the fourth annual N.A.C.H. Family Advocacy Day range in age from 1 to 19 and are current or former patients of children's hospitals nationwide. With diagnoses ranging from leukemia to cerebral palsy, the children and their parents hope to raise awareness for the important specialized care that children's hospitals provide, and to stress the significant role that SCHIP and Medicaid play in helping ensure that these valuable services are available to all children who need them. On average, Medicaid and SCHIP patients account for more than 50 percent of all patient care at children's hospitals nationwide.

Nationwide, children's hospitals account for less than 5 percent of all hospitals but they provide nearly 40 percent of all hospital care for children and the majority of care for children with serious medical conditions. Children's hospitals are responsible for providing training for the majority of pediatricians and virtually all pediatric subspecialists and research scientists.

For more information on Family Advocacy Day and to follow two blogs — one written by 15-year-old patient Cedric Walker and one written by parent Zac Ives, whose child Anna is a brain tumor survivor — visit www.childrenshospitals.org.

National Association of Children's Hospitals

The National Association of Children's Hospitals (N.A.C.H) is the public policy affiliate of the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions. Representing more than 140 freestanding acute care children's hospitals, freestanding children's rehabilitation and specialty hospitals, and children's hospitals organized within larger medical centers, it addresses public policy issues affecting children's hospitals' missions of service to the children of their communities, including clinical care, education, research and advocacy. For more information, please visit www.childrenshospitals.org.

Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian

Ranked by U.S.News & World Report as one of the top children's hospitals in the country, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian offers the best available care in every area of pediatrics — including the most complex neonatal and critical care, and all areas of pediatric subspecialties — in a family-friendly and technologically advanced setting. Building a reputation for more than a century as one of the nation's premier children's hospitals, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian is affiliated with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and is Manhattan's only hospital dedicated solely to the care of children and the largest provider of children's health services in the tri-state area with a long-standing commitment to its community. Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian is also a major international referral center, meeting the special needs of children from infancy through adolescence worldwide.

Media Contact:

Gloria Chin 212-305-5587