by Kristie Clark MD, FAAP
With much gratitude for our chapter’s members and staff, I’m proud to announce that the AAP awarded KAAP the 2020 Award of Chapter Excellence, as KAAP was a finalist for the Medium Category Oustanding Chapter Award. I’d like to commend each of you for the work you do to care and advocate for children. There are three Kansas pediatricians: Dr. Stephanie Kuhlmann, Dr. Gretchen Homan and Dr. Pam Shaw, who received AAP Special Achievement Awards and whose work I’d like to highlight.
As soon as schools were shut down, a return to school plan became necessary for when students could return safely to in-person learning. Dr. Stephanie Kuhlmann worked tirelessly with the Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids, collaborating with the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE) as well as the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) in developing school guidelines at the state level. The collaboration with the KSDE was groundbreaking, and she, along with other pediatricians in the Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids, provided webinars, educating physicians on how to return students to sports after COVID, communicate with schools, and use the forms developed in collaboration with KAAP.
The need for vaccination advocacy and education only grows. Dr. Gretchen Homan, who serves as the president-elect of KAAP and is past president of the Immunize Kansas Coalition (IKC), provided testimony against anti-vaccination bills in Kansas legislature this season. One bill would have moved responsibility for determining the school vaccination schedule from public health experts at the KDHE to the legislature. The other bill would have prevented employers from incentivizing vaccinations to protect their employees and clients. Also, Dr. Homan was the Medical Director for a KAAP pilot project to work with three pediatric practices to incorporate talking with caregivers about vaccines during pediatric visits. Additionally, the AAP recognized her work coordinating efforts between AAP and WIC on a national level.
With the distraction of the pandemic, we might have set aside the important work we’ve been doing in mental health, but we did not. KAAP, as part of a coalition, that included the United Methodist Health Ministries Fund and the KDHE Bureau of Family Health, advocated for Kansas Medicaid to pay for maternal depression screening, and this code became active January 1, 2021. Dr. Pam Shaw created a toolkit, available on KAAP and KDHE websites, as well as trainings for pediatric practices incorporating the latest information on screening for maternal depression, referral, coding and payment for these services.
Finally, I would like to thank KAAP’s staff: Mel Hudelson, Shanna Peters, Martha Atkinson and Amy Trollinger for their service to Kansas kids and pediatricians. Their ability to pivot led to successful virtual CMEs, a new platform for us. Their ingenuity developed innovations such as a social media toolkit to get kids back in for well child checks and routine vaccinations as well as developing the one page “Mask Guidance for School Aged Children” which has been adopted by other state AAP chapters. Our TAP-TAM early literacy program has grown, our staff are administering 12 active grants which serve Kansas kids, and we’ve just completed our first ECHO project on telemedicine.
Thank you for everything you do for Kansas kids. KAAP is here for you.