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Furthering their commitment to Flint and its children, in 2016, long-standing partners Michigan State University (MSU) and Hurley Medical Center, both with footprints in Flint for more than a century, launched the MSU-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative (PPHI), a model public health program. The overall mission of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative is to improve the outcomes of Flint children.

Through community and clinical programs, childhood health policy and advocacy, and robust evaluation, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative works with many partners, including Flint's heroic parents and kids, as a center of excellence, with the primary goal of mitigating the impact of the Flint Water Crisis and serving as a national resource for best practices.

The foundation for this new initiative is based on MSU College of Human Medicine’s 48-year medical education collaboration with Hurley Medical Center. It leverages MSU’s 2014 Flint expansion of its Division of Public Health that was supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, bringing new public health researchers to Flint to study the community's most pressing public health needs. With "boots on the ground" in downtown Flint, the PPHI had a base of operation and took action immediately with interventions to help all Flint children grow up health and strong.

Framed as an added toxic stress, the response to the population-wide lead exposure espouses an ecobiodevelopmental model to promote child and family resilience. Prioritizing the developmentally-sensitive prenatal to preschool window (see image), our goal is to wrap our children in a nutrient-rich environment of development-promoting interventions.

A framework for mitigating interventions was developed with community partners in late 2015 and was officially submitted via the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) after declaration of the federal emergency status (January 2016).

A blend of governmental and philanthropic sources now supports many of the recommended interventions. Examples include:

  • expanded maternal infant support programs
  • universal home-based early intervention
  • a new high quality early education center with another opening in 2018
  • family and parenting support programs
  • massive investment in early literacy and two-generation literacy initiatives
  • universal preschool
  • school health services
  • mindfulness programming
  • breastfeeding support
  • nutrition prescriptions
  • WIC co-location with primary care
  • mobile grocery stores
  • trauma-informed care
  • health care expansion via Medicaid waiver
  • and more.

Since its inception, the PPHI has worked to develop robust evaluation and to lay the groundwork needed for a Flint Water Crisis registry. In early 2017, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that it awarded a one-year grant of $500,000 to the PPHI for the planning of a registry of Flint residents.

"Much of our work in Flint is just beginning, including efforts to mobilize long-term sustainability of interventions and assessments," said Mona Hanna, MD, director, MSU-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative. "However, we are hopeful and optimistic that the future for our Flint children will be as bright as ever!"

The Pediatric Public Health Initiative is supported and housed at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine at its downtown Flint location, across from the Hurley Children's Clinic and the Flint Farmers' Market.