For many years faculty members of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University recognized the unique issues and barriers surrounding access to quality health care for Atlanta’s underserved and at-risk youth. More specifically, the need to increase access to and improve the delivery of pediatric primary care services for urban-based populations was acknowledged through the work of community based programs and Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital’s pediatric primary care clinic. In 1994, Drs. George Brumley and Veda Johnson were successful in obtaining a grant from HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care to develop a comprehensive health clinic within the walls of an elementary school in an underserved area of southeast Atlanta. Initial funding for this project was obtained through grants from the Zeist Foundation and the Ronald McDonald’s Children’s Charities. Additional funding was obtained to expand the scope of the clinic’s medical program to include dental and behavioral health services. In 1999, these services were extended to the feeder middle school in the community.
The Hughes Spalding Primary Care Clinic began as an ambulatory pediatric clinic at Grady Hospital. It was designed to provide care to underserved children from birth to age 21 and to serve as an outpatient primary care pediatric training site for residents. Faculty and staff observed that the needs of the patients being treated in this clinic far exceeded the standard medical care available at the time. They recognized that treating an illness without addressing the social determinants of health resulted in suboptimal outcomes for these patients. As a result, the clinic has a long history of attempting to address the medical and psychosocial needs of the patients and families, even with limited resources. This clinic has invested in social services and interpretative services. It has also focused on early childhood literacy through participation in the Reach Out and Read program and childhood injury prevention through an affiliation with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.
In 2009, Dr. Veda Johnson, along with Dr. Terri McFadden, was successful in obtaining a multi-year grant to develop the PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health (formerly the Urban Health Program within the Department of Pediatrics at Emory with the intent to increase access to quality primary health care and to improve the delivery of primary care health services for at-risk children and adolescents living in the Atlanta Metropolitan area and throughout the state of Georgia.
The goals of the program include:
- Increasing access to quality health care
- Improving the delivery of pediatric primary care through a coordinated and comprehensive health model
- Developing a comprehensive family support system
- Improving school readiness and academic success for at-risk pre-school and school age children