ATLANTA, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Bernie and Billi Marcus announced today that they are joining forces in the fight against autism. Children's will develop a new wholly owned subsidiary, Marcus Autism Center, which will offer services for children with autism. Children's plans to collaborate with Emory University, Georgia Tech and other academic and community-based organizations who are already serving the needs of children with autism in Georgia. Together, there is an opportunity to leverage the extraordinary research, resources and capabilities already available in Georgia to help improve the lives of these children and their families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the country -- 1 in 150 children nationally are diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder. "We've got a real issue on our hands. My wife, Billi, and I recognize the important need for a center that will bring together educators, researchers, the medical community, and others," said Bernie Marcus, founder of The Marcus Institute. "Children's was the ideal partner for this endeavor, given its proven track record as a clinical provider and focus on caring for Georgia's kids." In July 2008, Children's will begin offering services at the Marcus Autism Center, located on Briarcliff Road where the Marcus Institute currently operates. Services will include programs designed to diagnose, treat and provide support for children who have been diagnosed with, or exhibit signs of autism. "We will build upon Bernie's and Billi's vision and will strive to add value to the fight against autism," said Children's Healthcare of Atlanta President and CEO Donna Hyland, noting that the incidence of autism is even greater in Georgia -- 1 in 136 children. "With this new endeavor, we will build upon the great work already taking place to help children with autism here in our state." Children's will seek to utilize its resources in developing the Marcus Autism Center to continue diagnosing and treating Georgia's children with autism. "We believe Children's must address autism in a meaningful way in order to support our continued pursuit to become a world-class pediatric health care system," said Douglas J. Hertz, Chairman of the Children's Board of Trustees. "This collaboration will be a great building-block toward us achieving one of our long-term strategies in caring for the children of Georgia." Many autistic children also are diagnosed with other medical conditions and Children's aims to improve the coordination of care for these patients and their families. "Developmental disorders like autism often cause families many unanswered questions," said Marcus. "The Marcus Autism Center is a big step toward the evolution of autism care here in Georgia that will hopefully begin answering these questions." About Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 15 neighborhood locations, Children's is one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country. Children's offers access to more than 30 pediatric specialties, and has been consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals by Child magazine and U.S. News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children's has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit www.choa.org or call 404-250-KIDS for more information.
SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta