понедельник, 17 сентября 2012 г.

Cigarette Tax to Save Pediatric Program at Fresno, Calif.-Area Hospital. - Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

By Lisa Aleman-Padilla, The Fresno Bee, Calif. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Mar. 13--Cigarette tax money will save a developmental and behavioral pediatric program cut by cash-strapped Children's Hospital Central California.

Exceptional Parents Unlimited will receive a $1 million grant from First Five of Fresno County to house and oversee services for county children with special needs.

But because of limitations on Proposition 10 spending, the money will go only toward helping children ages 5 and younger.

First Five hopes to eventually bring in more partners to pay for services for older child patients.

'At least for now, we've put in place a mechanism to save those services for this population,' said Luisa Medina, vice chairwoman of First Five. 'We'll have to look for other sources to fund those older populations.'

Dr. David Snyder, a pediatrician for the program, said that while he appreciates First Five's commitment to continue services for the young children, hundreds of older children still need treatment.

'We're still very concerned about those other children,' he said.

Snyder and his associate run the only pediatric developmental and behavioral program from Sacramento to Los Angeles, providing assessment and treatment of developmentally delayed children. On average, they answer more than 3,000 office calls yearly.

Children's Hospital cut the program last month, citing budget concerns. First Five, which distributes about $8 million a year in Proposition 10 revenue, stepped in this week.

'Early intervention is most effective. I'm very pleased we'll be able to work with the very young children before their problems become disruptive to their lives,' Snyder said.

Many of those problems are the result of premature birth, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, child abuse and illness, he said.

'A great many of our patients with Attention Deficit Disorder would not be in school if it weren't for the care we are providing,' Snyder said, adding that many were on the verge of expulsion.

He hopes his older patients will seek treatment through their pediatricians and Fresno County's Department of Mental Health.

But he said patients benefit from the care of specialists: 'Those with multiple problems will be very difficult for a pediatrician to manage.'

Steve Gordon, executive director for First Five, said the commission felt the complete elimination of the program would leave a huge void. 'The first five years are critical in the development of the brain,' he said. 'What could be treated early on, can become a problem later on. We moved quickly to avoid too much of a break in services.'

The program will move after April 11 to its new location on North First Street in Fresno, and will retain two pediatricians, a child psychologist, social worker, licensed vocational nurse, site manager and an administrative assistant.

Snyder said once the new office is running smoothly, a search for additional funding will begin: 'We need to get the services that First Five is supporting up and running, then we can think about adding additional needed services.'

To see more of The Fresno Bee, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.fresnobee.com

(c) 2003, The Fresno Bee, Calif. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.