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Koop Urges Coordinated Services for Ill Children

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Washington--Communities must expand efforts to coordinate medical, educational, and social services for seriously ill children and their parents, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said last week.

Addressing more than 1,300 health professionals, special-education experts, advocates for the disabled, and parents at a conference here, Dr. Koop said that too many handicapped and chronically ill children are not receiving timely and adequate care.

"If we build community-based care systems, then we have demonstrated our commitment to these children and their parents," Dr. Koop said at the meeting, which focused on creating local service systems for medically vulnerable children.

The Surgeon General and other speakers stressed that such systems should be "family-centered" and should promote normal patterns of living. They agreed that parents, because they know their children in a way that professional care-givers do not, should play an active role in determining their children's care.

Conference organizers said that it was one of the largest gatherings ever convened on the topic of coordinating services for such children.

The meeting was sponsored by the Federal Intragency Coordinating Council, the Health and Human Services Department's bu4reaus of maternal and child health and resource development, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Maternal and Child Health Resource Center. Seventy-seven other groups were co-sponsors.

The meeting was a follow-up to a conference on medically fragile children sponsored by the Surgeon General's office last year. At that time, Dr. Koop recommended the creation and expansion of coordinated, local services for families with children with special health needs.

Participants at this year's conference spent time defining which children need help, the types of services they need, and how these services could be better coordinated.

Conference organizers said that this fall hhs will announce a program that will aid community-based service systems. The program will include an information clearinghouse, technical assistance, and training and education programs for health-care providers and state officials.--ef

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