Children's Health Fund Responds to Public Health Crisis by Providing Mobile Clinic to Care for Children Impacted by the BP Oil Spill

Crisis Response Unit Will Supplement a Health Care System Never Fully Rebuilt After Hurricane Katrina

Jane Pauley, Billy Nungesser, and Andy Garret, M.D. to join CHF's Irwin Redlener, M.D.

Oct 07, 2010, 08:00 ET from Children's Health Fund

PORT SULPHUR, La., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Almost six months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion caused the oil spill now globally known as the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history, Children's Health Fund (CHF) is expanding its New Orleans's Children's Health Project (NOCHP) by bringing a Crisis Response Unit to lower Plaquemines Parish.  The new project will be in partnership with Tulane University and Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Center.  The mobile pediatric unit will bring badly needed medical, mental, and public health services to oil disaster affected families.  

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On Friday, October 8, Jane Pauley, CHF Board Member and Chair of CHF's Advisory Council, Andy Garrett M.D., Deputy Chief Medical Officer, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Disaster Medical System and Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President, will join CHF President and Co-Founder Irwin Redlener, M.D. at the site of the Old Plaquemines Medical Center in Port Sulphur, LA, to support the expansion of the NOCHP.

Last week, the Crisis Response Unit began providing desperately needed medical and mental health services to children and families in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish -- an economically diverse and medically underserved region that has yet to rebuild a permanent health care facility after Hurricane Katrina.  The region has been federally designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area.  In terms of access to medical care for children, there are no practicing pediatricians currently in the region.

Attaining accessible and affordable health care has been vastly exacerbated by the increased exposure to oil products, loss of income security, and the appearance of new symptoms and illness in children and adults after the BP Oil Spill.  In a study released in August of 2010, Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, in collaboration with the Children's Health Fund and The Marist Poll of Poughkeepsie, NY, found a significant and potentially lasting impact of the disaster on the health, mental health, and economic fortunes of Gulf residents and their children.  As demonstrated by the study, done after the well was capped, there is a significant and persistent public health crisis in this region underscored by the large number of children with medical and psychological problems related to the oil disaster.

"Plaquemines Parish is still suffering from the consequences of Hurricane Katrina and the unfinished business of rebuilding the area's health care assets," said Irwin Redlener, M.D.  "We are pleased to be bringing the Crisis Response Unit to this region where it will be able to visit schools and other remote areas, providing comprehensive care to children who face many barriers to medical care."

"One of our top priorities in the wake of the BP oil spill must be to mitigate the psychological toll of this horrible nightmare, and to help families piece their lives back together," said Senator Mary Landrieu.  "This unprecedented disaster continues to have a devastating effect on millions of people who earn a living on our working coast and call it home.  Small business owners are struggling to pay their bills.  Families are worried about having a paycheck to put food on the table and to keep the electricity on. For many in Louisiana, this tragedy will be the turning point in their lives.  Children's Health Fund's new mobile mental health clinic will go a long way in combating the post traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression that people in South Louisiana may face in the coming weeks and months."

"Just as the Children's Health Fund has expanded access to care for children in other areas of the state, CHF will bring much-needed, accessible health care to children and families in Plaquemines Parish who are among the hardest hit by the oil spill," said Senator David Vitter.  "The Children's Health Fund has done great work in our state, and I will continue working to support efforts like these that are so important to Louisiana's children."

"Tulane University School of Medicine has partnered with the Children's Health Fund for the last five years to provide school-linked mobile health care services to children and families in neighborhoods recovering from Hurricane Katrina," said Dr. Alina Olteanu, Medical Director for the New Orleans Children's Health Project. "This is a natural expansion of the program to help families as they recover from the lingering effects of the storm and Deepwater Horizon oil spill."

"Now more than ever, our community needs access to quality, consistent and affordable health care," said John Trumbaturi, Chair of the Board of the Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Center, "We are delighted to partner with the Children's Health Fund and Tulane University to bring much needed children's health services to Plaquemines Parish."

"During these past few months I have interacted with many local children whose lives have been turned upside down by recent events," said Billy Nungesser, Parish President,  "Children's Health Fund is a welcome, and much needed, addition to available services in Plaquemines Parish for these children.  I thank you for your concern and for your support for these who are least able to fend for themselves."  

Services will be provided at four sites in lower Plaquemines Parish -- Phoenix High School in Braithwaite, LA, South Plaquemines High School in Port Sulphur, LA, Boothville-Venice Elementary in Boothville, LA, and the new Port Sulphur YMCA.  The multi-disciplinary team will provide clinical assessments, evaluations, counseling and referrals for the more than 5,900 children in the area, whose parents reported significant medical and mental health needs after the BP oil spill.

This service expansion was made possible in part by private donations from The Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund, Idol Gives Back Foundation, Catherine C. Marron, Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau, the Regional Disaster Funders Network, as well as many individuals.

Children's Health Fund

Founded in 1987 by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Irwin Redlener, MD, Children's Health Fund (CHF) is the nation's leading pediatric provider of mobile-based health care for homeless and low-income children and their families. CHF's mission is to bring health care directly to those in need through the development and support of innovative medical programs, response to public health crises, and the promotion of guaranteed access to health care for all children. CHF currently has 50 mobile medical clinics serving 100's of locations across the country. Over the past 23 years, the organization has supported more than two million health care visits for disadvantaged children, often in places where doctors and health care providers are in short supply. For more information about CHF, visit

Tulane University

Founded in 1834, Tulane University is one of the most highly regarded and selective  research universities in the United States offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the liberal arts, science and engineering, architecture, business, law, social work, medicine and public health and tropical medicine. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Tulane takes pride in being a part of a select group of 63 universities with "pre-eminent programs of graduate and professional education and scholarly research." Since Hurricane Katrina, Tulane has also been a leader in transforming the way health care is delivered to Louisiana residents who lack adequate insurance.

Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Center

The Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Center is a 501(c)-3 Non-Profit Agency which provides Counseling, Assessment, Resources and Education to the people of Plaquemines Parish, free of charge since 2006. You can learn more by going to the C.A.R.E. Center's website at

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Irwin Redlener, MD

SOURCE Children's Health Fund