St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, which has its origins as New York’s oldest children’s hospital, is marking the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a series of initiatives designed to shine a spotlight on the expanding population of children with disabilities and medical complexity. Sunday, July 26th, 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the ADA Act, signed in to law in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. The act brought legal protections for people with disabilities, as well as increased public understanding of obstacles faced by this population and the opportunities available for progress. Special issues facing children with disabilities, and children with medical complexity, however, have emerged during the 25 years since the ADA Act became law.
Many in the healthcare community have focused on the “aging” U.S. population, and on the fact that chronic health issues will lead many individuals to face disabilities later in life. However, the emerging population of children with medical complexity, many of whom deal with a range of disabilities, is less often in the spotlight – this despite the fact that this population is growing at a rate of 5% annually.
Edwin Simpser, MD, St. Mary’s president and chief executive officer, commented, “Many people recognize that advances in medical care and medical technology have helped to expand the nation’s geriatric population, by providing improved treatment options and outcomes. Fewer realize, however, that these same factors are leading to an expanding population of children with medical complexity, as treatment allows children to survive and thrive in ways that were not possible just decades ago.”
Dr. Simpser added, “The ADA Act has been hugely beneficial and we at St. Mary’s are proud to celebrate its 25th Anniversary year. Many of the children we serve face disabilities as a result of chronic diseases and conditions and our challenge going forward is to continue to seek out improved options for care and treatment, both at home, in the hospital, and in community settings specifically geared for children and young adults with complex needs.”
Progress made over the past 25 years for pediatric patients is particularly evident at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, New York’s largest provider of post-acute care to children and young adults with medical complexity. Exciting new programs including Robotic-Assisted Neuro-Rehabilitation Therapy and other advances offer great promise. St. Mary’s is marking the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA Act with a series of events and initiatives culminating in the fall and winter of 2015 to emphasize the special needs of children with disabilities and medical complexity. These include research studies on advances in telehealth initiatives for home care of pediatric patients, brain-mapping research on the impact of neuro-rehabilitation for pediatric patients and special events including a concert scheduled for October 15, 2015 at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square hosted by Nick Cannon, designed to raise funds and awareness for pediatric programs.