Experts leading center of excellence initiative to build a better Flint

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FLINT, MI (WLNS) – Public health experts from Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Medical Center are using their expertise to tackle the public health issue in Flint and make improvements on it, for the future.

It’s all driven by a collaborative effort called the Pediatric Public Health Initiative.

Researchers actually started exploring the public health of Flint back in 2012. Since then, efforts have been put forward to study different areas within the community.

But the events of the Flint water crisis have changed the focus of that research, by taking a more extensive, aggressive approach in an effort to help future generations in the city.

“That is our focus. Trying to make the lives of the people in Flint better,” Dr. Aron Sousa, Interim Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine said.

A team of government and community experts in child development, epidemiology, geography, toxicology, nutrition, and much more, are making it their mission to build a better, healthier Flint.

“We are throwing every single intervention to these kids and we’re doing it now,” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha said. She’s the director of the pediatric residency at Hurley Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She also was the pediatrician from Flint who warned officials of high lead levels in Flint’s water.

This center of excellence initiative, led by Dr. Hanna-Attisha, will establish a public health model to maximize the overall health and development of Flint’s children.

“We’re bringing into the community what we should have been bringing into this community decades ago,” Dr. Hanna-Attisha said. “But now we’re doing it, and we’re going to study it and it’s going to be at the pediatric level and the adult level because you can’t have healthy kids without having healthy adults.”

Teams of doctors and researchers will focus on a couple of key areas including assessment, by identifying the impacts of lead exposure from water, and continuing that research.

Putting a long-term monitoring process in place for the children who’ve been exposed to lead and creating an emphasis on interventions through continued education, nutrition, and health.

“And studying those interventions to make sure that they work, and that the children in the community get the best possible benefit,” Dr. Sousa said.

Jim Buterakos, Academic Officer for Hurley Medical Center, says with the Hurley Medical Center’s infrastructure in place, it allows for clinical resources to be readily available when needed.

“Through our relationship with the university over the 40 plus years, it makes sense and I think that we’re both committed to make things better for the community,” Buterakos said.

Creating hope for a better tomorrow, for the future of Flint.

“We would like to see Flint be known as a center of national distinction for excellent public health research,” Dr. Sousa said.

Be sure to stay with 6 News. We’ll continue to update you on MSU’s efforts to help and improve the lives of the people in Flint now and in the future.

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