A $250,000 gift from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation will allow UC Davis Children's Hospital to expand its two-year-old pediatric telemedicine program between Sacramento and several Northern California hospitals to include child-abuse evaluation and consultation services.
"Our current telemedicine program already connects critical-care physicians in Northern California with our experts here in Sacramento to assist in determining optimal treatment for acutely ill and injured children in outlying areas," said Robert Dimand, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric intensive care unit at UC Davis Children's Hospital. "This gift from the Hearst Foundation allows us to broaden our services into another critically needed area — child abuse evaluation."
UC Davis' telemedicine program, a high-resolution video and audio fiber-optic system, will initially connect child-abuse specialists from the UC Davis Child and Adolescent Abuse Resource and Evaluation Center (CAARE) with emergency-room physicians and child-abuse specialists at Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta and Mercy Medical Center Redding. Up to five other regional sites will be added in the near future. The telemedicine link will allow UC Davis child-abuse specialists to assist in determining cause of injuries in suspected child-abuse cases and in developing strong medical records for judicial proceedings.
"Statistics show the prevalence of child abuse cases in some of the most northern counties of California is higher than in the urban areas in the state," said Kevin Coulter, medical director of the UC Davis CAARE Center and an expert in the identification and treatment of child and sexual abuse. "We hope our expertise can be used to ultimately reduce the incidence of child abuse through more accurate evaluations, which in turn creates stronger criminal cases against the offenders."
Part of the Hearst gift will be used on education efforts to prevent child abuse and on studies to determine if the various interventions affect the conviction rate for abusers.
The UC Davis pediatric critical care telemedicine program began in April 2000, supported initially by a $100,000 grant from the California Telehealth and Telemedicine Foundation, and followed by a $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation. It was the first telemedicine program in the United States to serve critically ill and injured children.
The William Randolph Hearst Foundation and Hearst Foundation, Inc. are independent private philanthropies operating from offices in New York City and San Francisco, with funding interests in education, health, social services and culture.
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