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Richmond University Medical Center Awarded $4M to Improve Children’s Health

August 22, 2019 – Richmond University Medical Center has been awarded a $4 million grant to improve healthcare for children living on the north shore of Staten Island through Project LAUNCH, a federally funded initiative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The funding from SAMHSA will be awarded over a five-year period, $800,000 a year.

According to SAMHSA, Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) is intended to promote the wellness of young children ages birth to 8 years of age by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of their development. The long-term goal of Project LAUNCH is to ensure that children enter school ready to learn and able to succeed.

Richmond University Medical Center will implement the Staten Island Project LAUNCH to improve outcomes for low income and high need children from birth to age eight residing in Staten Island’s north shore. The hospital will implement an innovative approach that includes care managers, community health workers, and a medical mobile outreach van, staffed by a nurse practitioner, EMT, care manager, and community health worker, to support and guide families through the early years of their child’s life. Services provided will include standardized screenings, assessments, care coordination and integrated mental health care and consultation throughout pediatric, early childhood, and child care settings.

In addition to directly improving healthcare for children, the project will also increase public awareness of the risks of untreated maternal and infant health and mental health conditions and improve connections to care for high risk mothers and infants.

“Project LAUNCH is an exciting opportunity to improve outcomes at the individual, family, and community levels by addressing risk factors early in a child’s life,” Elizabeth Traynor, assistant vice president, outpatient behavioral health services, said. “By supporting young families during the crucial early years of development, Project LAUNCH will promote healthy development connecting the family, and medical community to educational outcomes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc., over 30 percent of north shore children live in poverty and half the area’s families are on Medicaid. The area also has the city’s highest rate of foster care placements and Staten Island saw a 165 percent increase in the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome over the past decade. In addition, almost 40 percent of children in some neighborhoods of the north shore have developmental disabilities, asthma hospitalization is 25 percent higher than the citywide level, and 38.9 percent of Staten Island students are either overweight or obese.

The hospital will seek to identify 200 to 250 children a year to work with from the neediest families identified through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pediatrics and OB/GYN departments. Over the course of the five year project period, over 5,000 individuals receiving services from the  NICU, OB/GYN, or outpatient pediatrics will be screened for mental health or related interventions. It is expected that 1,250 individuals will be referred for mental health or related services, while another 500 will receive evidence-based mental health related services because of the grant.

The project will seek to collaborate and share resources with the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW), Staten Island Performing Provider System (SI PPS), The North Shore Alliance for Children and Families and the Office of the Staten Island Borough President.

“Richmond University Medical Center is dedicated to providing optimum care to the families we serve,” assistant vice president, women and children's services and nursing education, Victoria Orleman, said.  “This grant enables us to focus on preconception care and providing post discharge support to our highest risk moms and infants.  The integration of this care with behavioral health services is integral in improving the overall health outcomes for this population.”

Richmond University Medical Center is Staten Island’s leading provider of behavioral health services for children, adolescents and adults. The hospital is also the only borough facility that offers inpatient psychiatric services for adolescents. Earlier this year the hospital added over a dozen new behavioral health programs through a merger with Staten Island Mental Health Society, which now operates as a division of the hospital. One of these programs is Staten Island’s only Head Start program, which is also the only Head Start program in the country provided through the support and administration of a full service hospital.