The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics at Children’s of Alabama is one of five hospitals to receive a new $29 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The group, known as the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN), will focus on the needs and challenges to children during pandemics and disasters, ensuring that health equity is at the forefront of emergency planning.
“Communities of color not only feel the impact of pandemics and disasters far more severely than others, but also have more difficulty obtaining aid and assistance. If the needs of vulnerable populations are not addressed in emergency planning, the national disaster preparedness strategy could fail for all,” said Joelle Simpson, principal investigator of this grant and division chief of emergency medicine and medical director of emergency preparedness at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Children’s National will take the lead on the grant.
The grant will facilitate ways to gather and disseminate research-informed insights into how to care for children in a future pandemic to both medical providers and community organizations; develop a telehealth infrastructure to support the care of acutely ill children and expand mental health access; and expand pediatric-focused emergency preparedness and planning.
The hub for the grant will be located at the newly opened Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, the site of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In September 2021, HRSA launched the Regional PPN by funding five pediatric hospitals. This new grant doubles the size and reach of the network in order to benefit all children in the nation.
Children’s of Alabama was founded in 1911 and at more than 3.5 million square feet is one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the United States. It serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. A private, not-for-profit medical center, it also serves as the teaching hospital for UAB’s pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians, as well as private practicing community physicians.