|July 16, 2021
By Adrienne W. Carmack, MD, Medical Director of Office of Child and Family Services
The recent deaths of young children in Maine during the month of June has caused us all to take pause and consider how we can work to better serve Maine families and children.
As Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services stated, “These deaths, like all involving children, are heartbreaking and deeply concerning. Every child in Maine deserves to have the opportunity to grow up healthy, to get a good education, and to live a productive, happy, and meaningful life. When children die, they are robbed of these opportunities and we lose the light, love, and potential of these children. This is a call to action. In addition to our own review and ongoing work, we requested Casey Family Programs bring to bear its wealth of experience and national perspective to help us, and we’re bolstering StrengthenME to ensure Maine families have access to the support they need to cope with the significant stresses of the pandemic.”
As medical providers for families and children, it is crucial to heed this call to action. Do not wait for families to call to reschedule missed medical care. Use these upcoming months to reach out to families and bring them back into the office. When families are in the office, take the time to screen both adults and children for mental health needs, and offer to connect families to supports available in the community. Evidence from across the country continues to suggest that adults and children are experiencing heightened mental health and substance use issues. DHHS will extend and broaden the StrengthenME campaign, which offers free stress management and resiliency resources to anyone in Maine experiencing stress reactions to the pandemic.
Contact StrengthenME at 207-221-8198 or at https://strengthenme.com/
Public Health Nurses and Maine Families Home Visitors are available for pregnant women and families with newborns and young children. Contact CradleME at 1-888-644-1130 or at https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-nursing/documents/CradleME-request-form-instructions.pdf
Over the past year, many children have missed their important regularly scheduled well child check-ups. Especially vulnerable are the children with complex needs and developmental disabilities, who may have missed their therapeutic services as well. Contact families to catch up on needed immunizations, but also be sure they schedule an office visit as well, to check on growth and development, and administer recommended screenings.
Especially important, the well child check is a time to review safety tips for families with children, including discussion about gun safety, water safety to prevent drowning, and the safe storage of medication and hazardous materials.
Many resources are available with strategies for education and messaging, through websites such as:
Physicians, and members of the entire medical team, are vital to the health, safety and well-being of Maine’s children and families. Thank you for your care and dedication. Please share any additional thoughts by contacting me directly at email@example.com.
For concerns related to child abuse or neglect call the Child Protection Hotline at 1-800-452-1999.< Previous Article | Next Article >
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