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UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital receives more than $48 million to establish Regional Pediatric Pandemic Network

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital (UH Rainbow) is leading the way nationally on pediatric preparedness for future disasters and global health events like the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) took notice of the critical work and awarded more than $48 million to UH Rainbow to establish a Regional Pediatric Pandemic Network that will support the planning and preparation of child healthcare facilities to respond to global health threats, including pandemics, and support communities in everyday pediatric readiness. This is the largest grant UH Rainbow has received in its history.

This effort will build upon the work supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in 2019 to establish the Eastern Great Lakes Pediatric Consortium for Disaster Response (EGLPCDR), one of only two Pediatric Disaster Care Centers of Excellence in the country. The EGLPCDR, led by UH Rainbow and accompanied by five other children’s hospitals in Michigan and Ohio, has laid the groundwork on a multi-pronged approach to address gaps across the disaster cycle spectrum of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery for nearly seven million children. The structures of EMS for Children Innovation and Improvement Center, a technical support center founded in quality and safety and based out of UH Rainbow and Dell Children’s in Austin, Texas, are leveraged as well for this robust effort.

Charles G. Macias, MD, MPH, Chief, Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Chief Quality Officer at UH Rainbow, is a co-primary investigator of the ASPR grant award and will lead the new HRSA supported Regional Pediatric Pandemic Network.

“We began this work before the global pandemic, and 2020 proved how important it is for hospitals, healthcare infrastructures, government and private entities to work together to create a coordinated emergency response model,” says Dr. Macias. “This grant is an amazing opportunity to grow a national model whose impact can inform all aspects of pediatric preparedness, from daily efforts to global health threats.”

The Regional Pediatric Pandemic Network includes:

  • UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
  • University of California San Francisco-Benioff Children’s Hospital
  • University of Louisville School of Medicine-Norton Children’s Hospital
  • University of Utah Health-Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital
  • Saint Louis University-Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

This network of children’s hospitals representing broad geographic diversity will serve as a hub-and-spoke model of expertise to support efforts for pediatric readiness and disaster preparedness (including pandemics) by incorporating specific focus areas, called “domains” (such as trauma, equity, analytics, and others) to define best practices as supported by the ASPR, HRSA, Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC), and other existing workgroups.

“We are grateful for this transformative grant from HRSA to continue critical work for the safety and wellbeing of our children across our nation,” Heidi Gartland, Chief Government & Community Relations Officer, UH. “We are so fortunate to have great elected officials who understand the importance of these funds. University Hospitals is especially thankful for the efforts of Congressman Dave Joyce, who spearheaded this effort, then worked with other Northeast Ohio Members including Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman Tim Ryan, and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez to get the final legislative language secured.”

 “A project of this magnitude is truly a team effort and would not be possible without the support from elected officials. University Hospitals is especially thankful for the efforts and advocacy from Congressmen Dave Joyce, Tim Ryan, Anthony Gonzalez, and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur to bring this network to fruition.”

By the end of 2020, COVID-19 had affected more than 19 million adults and one million children in the United States. As vaccine immunity rose, adult rates dropped but cases in children increased from three percent of all cases to 22 percent of all cases between May 2020 and May 2021.

“The pandemic’s impact on children and the healthcare systems that care for children extend beyond the diagnosis and management of infectious diseases to challenges with access to care and a behavioral health crisis,” says Daniel Simon, MD, President, Academic & External Affairs and Chief Scientific Officer, UH. “This new network will help to accelerate research-informed pediatric care transformation for sick and injured children across national organizations and infrastructures and we are proud to be leading efforts here in Cleveland and the nation.”

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