Healthcare Debate Healthy for Kids, CEO Says
Nov. 24, 2010
The results of the nation's protracted healthcare debate are likely to benefit the 1.6 million children in Texas who lack health insurance, the head of Children’s Medical Center Dallas said recently at the UT Dallas School of Management.
As it stands now, 25 percent of the state's children are uninsured, the highest rate in the nation, said Christopher J. Durovich, the company’s president and CEO.
Durovich addressed the University’s Healthcare Management Club last month. Most who attended were business students interested in careers in the expanding healthcare industry.
“There is a mindset regarding the negative aspect of healthcare reform and how it affects children,” Durovich told his audience. He is optimistic that the debate will get help to children who otherwise would go without.
“Here’s part of the problem: Kids don’t vote. Kids don’t have a way to express themselves. So it’s up to us — to you, me and us — to speak for them,” Durovich said. “We need to use our own creativity as an industry, to take care of these kids.”
Durovich said children without health insurance are less likely to have regular and timely access to medical care. They are more likely to receive sporadic care from emergency rooms and clinics, driving up the costs of healthcare for everyone. They also are less likely to be immunized, and they face lower odds of becoming healthy, productive adults.
To combat some of these issues, Children’s serves as a strong community advocate, he said, particularly in promoting and helping families apply for affordable health insurance. The hospital system also provides millions annually in community care for children, last year totaling about $152 million.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘How do we organize, deliver and make healthcare more accessible to children in North Texas?’ ” Durovich said. “One way to do that is to provide healthcare closer to where people live.”
Children’s currently operates four satellite clinics in typically underserved areas, including Dallas’ Bachman Lake area, Carrollton, Plano and McKinney. Two new locations soon will open in Cedar Hill and Grapevine. The practices provide primary healthcare to both sick and well children, and are staffed by bilingual physicians and nurses.
“We used an analytical approach to placing these satellite locations. When patients present to our ER, we find out where they come from,” Durovich said. “If we can prevent that kid from coming to the hospital by taking care of them in their neighborhood, it’s a better deal for them and for us.”
All satellites are located in strip malls, in walking distance of a pharmacy and near public transit. Last year, the four outlets recorded 60,000 visits, with ER utilization down from as much as 60 percent in the Bachman Lake area.
“Kids are not miniature adults,” Durovich said. “What’s important is that we engage them and their families in their healthcare from start to finish. Healthcare should be provided in a context that is kid-friendly and kid-size. Kids need extra time, extra monitoring and extra medications.”
“We need to use our own creativity as an industry, to take care of these kids,” said Christopher J. Durovich, president and CEO of Children’s Medical Center Dallas.