Summer is just around the corner!
I write this letter with mixed emotions since it will be the last as your Chapter president. This summer I will be handing over the reins to Dr. Lori DeFrance.
Serving as your president has truly been one of the great honors of my life. Two years ago getting ready to embark on this journey, I would never have imagined the challenges that children and their families both in our state and across the country would be facing. As in the words of the poet Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” I quickly discovered that the challenges facing the children we serve are often fluid and often affected by the vagaries of the society we live in.
Our current political dispensation has meant ongoing threats to access to health care, challenges to immigrant populations, the loss of environmental protections that have implications for children and growing disparities in health and educational outcomes. Together, however, we have confronted these challenges on behalf of our patients and their families.
Engagement by members of our Chapter has occurred on so many levels, including various webinars aimed at enhancing our colleagues’ knowledge, participation on various Chapter workgroups and their activities, global work aimed at bringing expertise to various communities around the world, local engagement with the Somali community during last year’s measles epidemic, and advocacy with our state and congressional delegations. All the work that our Chapter membership has engaged in led to the Minnesota Chapter’s recognition with the American Academy of Pediatrics Outstanding Large Chapter Award!
Earlier this spring Chapter members also joined with almost 20,000 of our fellow citizens for the Minnesota March for Our Lives on March 24th. This was aimed at bringing attention to the problem of gun-related violence and the need for improved background checks and so-called “red flag” legislation that would ensure those in crisis do not have access to a firearm.
This action around gun safety was sparked by children. We have been witnesses to something remarkable in the form of a small group of amazing children who survived the horrible events at Parkland High School. Their coming together to advocate for gun control and speaking truth to power serves as evidence of the resilience of children and the importance of advocacy and being a voice for children.
Never has this been more important. It is clear that as pediatricians our role in advocating for children extends well beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics.
In 1904, Abraham Jacobi, the father of American Pediatrics, stated, “…It is not enough, however, to work at an individual bedside in a hospital. In the near or dim future, the pediatrician is to sit in and control school boards, health departments, and legislatures.”
It is remarkable how true these words ring over a century later. Children in our communities and indeed across the globe are depending on us to stand in the gap for them, to raise our voices when necessary and to bring our expertise and compassion always.
A special thank you to the following MNAAP board members who are rotating off the board on July 1:
Emily Chapman, MD | Vijay Chawla, MD | Angela Mattke, MD | Rebecca Doege, MD | Sue Berry, MD