A time of tremendous change in health care

James MandellI have used print, email, video and in-person communication to provide information about the strategic goals, operations, challenges and accomplishments of Children’s Hospital Boston and its faculty and staff. However, this is my first foray into the blogosphere. I hope it allows me a new opportunity to personally discuss our most important mission, simply stated: “We are here for the kids.”

Over the upcoming weeks and months, I will try to cover some of the most critically important (and I hope interesting) aspects of our world of pediatric care, research and education. I hope you will respond with comments, new ideas and ask questions about these and other topics.

For me, medicine is both a personal and professional calling. I am a practicing surgeon and the CEO of Children’s, but I’m also the parent of a child who at one point was critically ill and injured and the grandparent of six beautiful children. So I know first-hand what it’s like to deal with the stress, hopes and disappointments of raising a child – especially when that child has health problems. As a parent, you know that no one else understands your child as well as you. You must remain a fierce advocate for him or her, while shouldering the responsibility and heartache of having a sick child.

Our roles as caregivers and advocates for children are made only more difficult during this time of tremendous change in health care. I’m seeing turmoil at the local, state, regional and national levels about “health care reform” and all of its implications. And wearing all three of my hats – CEO, physician and father/grandfather – my worry is that issues such as access to preventive and acute care services for children will be dwarfed in the larger conflicts over the more costly coverage and payment for adults.

What concerns do you have about health reform? How can our health care system be improved without forgetting about its youngest consumers? What challenges do you face when accessing care for your child? Send your thoughts and questions and I’ll do my best to respond.