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Center for Child Health and Resiliency opens amid fanfare

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Montefiore and the Children’s Health Fund have teamed up to quell the stresses of childhood that can lead to serious health problems later in life.

The Center For Child Health and Resiliency opened its doors on Monday, May 23 with a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured former Mayor David Dinkins, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene, Montefiore CEO Steven Safyer and Dr. Irwin Redlener, co-founder and president of the Children’s Health Fund.

The center, located at 890 Prospect Avenue, is a joint venture between the Children’s Health Fund and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and focuses on “building protective factors that can help mitigate harmful stressors” that children from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds often experience.

The premise of the clinic is that children with a sound mind usually have a sound body, and that by reducing stress in the lives of young people, the chance of physical ailments like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular decreases.

“Many low-income children face chronic stress from nutrition deprivation and persistent violence at home or in the community,” Redlener said. “By addressing medical, emotional, and developmental needs through a comprehensive clinical care model, we can lower the risk of developing long term physical and mental health issues.”

The center seeks to pair social services with medical care. The doctors and staff who work there cite research that shows that severe stress in childhood can cause biological disruptions that permanently alter brain chemistry, making the child more prone to physical and mental illnesses later in life.

It will be these children who make or break the community the clinic is located in, Redlener said in his remarks, calling the new center an “island of hope” instead of a place to go only to get shots.

He spoke of the harmful effects that “toxic stress” can have on young people, not just in childhood, but throughout their lives.

The facility was built through a successful public and private partnership that included $1.3 million in federal stimulus money.

Redlener said that the partnership with Montefiore was instrumental in making the new hub of health care a reality.

“Montefiore and CHF have a long and successful partnership developing innovative programs to advance the health of families and children in the south Bronx,” Safyer said. “The Center for Child Health and Resiliency brings the newest research to bear on improving how pediatric care is provided. This forward-thinking approach is part of our overall strategy to improve the lives and the future of children at risk.”

Funding was also provided by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office.

The program has already been in operation in the Montefiore’s south Bronx health network, and Stacey Sauders, a participant, said it has made a major difference in her interactions with her son Thomas.

“I was experiencing fear, anxiety, and I was not sure if I had what it takes to pull off being a good mom,” Sauders said. “There is always something new to learn, but I was able to implement the tools and coping skills I learned.”

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