Beth Ebel, MD, MSc, MPH
Two years ago, when I joined WCAAP as Vice President, pediatricians were juggling masking policies to keep children in school, the COVID delta variant was gathering strength, and pediatric behavioral health experts were confronting the growing behavioral health challenges faced by children and teens who had been isolated during the pandemic.
Our collective dedication, partnerships, and the trust of patients and families saw us through the unimaginable challenges of the pandemic. Despite those struggles, the work of WCAAP members has brought transformational change – programs and policies which support the health and well-being of Washington children and adolescents and the pediatricians who care for them.
Pediatricians led advocacy to successfully raise Medicaid reimbursement rates and ensure reimbursement for telemedicine. We supported meaningful increases in behavioral health funding and led near unanimous passage of bipartisan legislation to insure new moms in the first year of a child’s life. We worked with partners for the passage of a ban on assault weapons and supported legislative measures to prevent gun violence, now the leading cause of death for children and teens. We developed an innovative model to address social determinants of health in the first years of a child’s life and strengthen family mental and behavioral health resources by embedding pediatric-trained community health workers into pediatric clinics. WCAAP sought and obtained funding from the legislature to pilot this program in clinics across the state and we have trained the first amazing cohort of CHWs. Chapters across the country have been reaching out, asking how they might replicate this work in their own states.
Each of us take joy in the care of children – our patients and our families. We celebrate their wonder, marvel at their toughness and curiosity, and provide comfort and support in illness and despair. At the same time, we can only address the broader context of child health – the challenges which impact the lives of children – when we work together and join our voices with the voices of parents, families, children, and partners. I look forward to the next two years as your President. We will build pathways for parents and families to contribute to the work of WCAAP. We will strengthen our foundational work to promote health equity and diversity and advocate for financial policies which will sustainably support pediatricians and pediatric practice. We will build upon our successes to address the social determinants of health, child mental and behavioral health, and continue our work to leave a safer and healthier world for our children to inherit. I extend my thanks to each member for your incredible dedication, resiliency, creativity and compassion. We are strong together.