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Take first step to mitigate social risks that affect child health :

July 9, 2019

Editor's note:The 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Oct. 25-29 in New Orleans.

Andrew F. Beck, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, often thinks back to a patient he encountered during his residency who died of a severe asthma exacerbation shortly after coming to the emergency department.

“This was a child who died from a disease we should be able to control, a disease that is affected quite a bit by one’s surroundings, who still ended up dying even though she was located just within a very short distance of this large medical center,” said Dr. Beck, associate professor in general and community pediatrics and hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The experience raised Dr. Beck’s awareness of the limitations of even the best medical centers and the opportunities to improve health by focusing on social needs.

Dr. Beck will discuss how pediatricians can tackle these needs during a session titled “Quality Improvement Approaches to Address Social Determinants of Child Health” from 3-3:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 (F3200) in room R06 of the convention center and again from 8:30-9:15 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28 (F4030) in rooms 225-227.

“These types of approaches fall within our area of responsibility,” Dr. Beck said. “But that doesn’t mean every single one of us has to go out and boil the ocean. It’s more figuring out where we can fit within a broader network of partners.”

He will share examples of the quality improvement work Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has done to address food insecurity, housing instability and public benefit denials in collaboration with civic and faith leaders, social service agencies, educators, patients and families as well as through medical-legal partnerships.

“Even at a small scale, action is possible, and that action is bolstered by partnerships with community-based experts and methods for tracking progress over time,” Dr. Beck said.

He acknowledged that pediatricians face barriers to tackling these issues, the biggest of which is time. But he will assure them that they can make a difference.

“If I can help pediatricians expand their methodologic armamentarium to either get started or strengthen their work on mitigation of social risks or move toward equity, I would be ecstatic,” he said. “My hope is that my session can help present this aspect of work as central to our oath as pediatricians, central to our mission as child health experts.”

For more coverage of the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition, visit

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