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July 3, 2012
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Special medical program for foster care children celebrates two decades of service

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Onondaga County Department of Social Services are celebrating the 20th anniversary of its ENHANCE Services for Children in Foster Care, the comprehensive, multidisciplinary program that provides pediatric and mental health services to all children in foster care in Onondaga County.

The program was proposed in 1991 after Onondaga County social services officials and University Hospital pediatricians met to find ways to calm the healthcare crisis unfolding in the foster care community.

Healthcare advocates for children in foster care were virtually non-existent in the 1980s. Too few caseworkers were available to help these children, and healthcare providers lacked the special expertise needed to care for them. Compounding the problem were roadblocks to enrolling in Medicaid and limitations to Medicaid Managed Care.

And the healthcare needs of children in foster care were astounding. According to some reports, more than half were exposed to drugs and alcohol, half had developmental delay, and three-fourths didn’t get necessary immunizations on time. In older children in foster care, children suffered from uncorrected poor vision, dental problems, emotional and behavioral issues and were doing poorly in school.

Under the leadership of Upstate’s Steven D. Blatt, MD, and assisted by Victoria Meguid, MB, BS and Ron Saletsky, PhD, ENHANCE has cared for more than 5,000 children at more than 40,000 patient appointments.

Today, two decades after its inception, ENHANCE provides an array of services from developmental testing to monitoring a child’s progress in foster care to well-child visits and special training for foster parents, case workers, family court professionals and other groups that are involved in foster care.

In addition to Dr. Blatt, Dr. Meguid and Dr. Saletsky, the healthcare team of ENHANCE includes Karen Dygert, MSN, PNP, BC; Terri Morse, MSN, FNP, BC; Lynn Restey, RN; Jeanette Hogan Onondaga County Department of Social Services/ENHANCE Liaison; and Mabel Aguilar, administrative assistant.

Read Blatt’s commentary in the Post-Standard.

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