MAKING A DIFFERENCE: In recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Child Protection Consultation Team hosted an information table in the White Corridor on April 10. From left, Drumm, Lipton and Newton
Training, supporting and closely collaborating with clinicians are key roles of the MGH Child Protection Consultation Team, which is available 24 hours, seven days a week to ensure staff always have a person to turn to when dealing with child abuse or suspected maltreatment cases.
“Our team can help in a number of different scenarios, not only in dealing with abuse of children, but also in the adult service where staff sometimes believe there could be a risk to a child related to a parent’s substance abuse, domestic violence or mental health issues,” says Alice Newton, MD, FAAP, the program’s recently appointed medical director. “There is a lot of discomfort when dealing with these situations, and we know that staff are so relieved when they learn that they can contact us to serve as a resource.”
Along with Newton, Debra Drumm, LICSW, and Susan Lipton, LICSW, round out the three-member team. Established in 2000, the MassGeneral Hospital for Children program focuses on providing interdisciplinary training for staff to ensure the highest standard of care to children and families who may have or are suspected of experiencing abuse or neglect. This includes interventions, assessments and referrals. “Our team also helps to ensure standards of practice around child treatment, and by doing so we assist in providing the best care possible for patients and families experiencing these issues,” Drumm says.
According to Lipton, 30 percent of the team’s consults come from the Pediatric Service and are most often related to issues of medical neglect, ingestions, fractures, head trauma and suicide attempts. “Neglect is on the rise and registers more than 60 percent of consultations annually,” she says.
Aside from their role aiding clinicians and families at the MGH, the team also works within the Boston community to help with cases and evaluations for organizations including the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, the Children’s Trust Fund and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, where they also train new intake workers and daycare providers.
In a field where difficult situations are encountered on a daily basis, the team members say it is the support they receive from one another and the knowledge that they are making a difference in the lives of children that keeps them rooted in their profession. “It’s also about supporting staff around some of their most challenging cases,” Drumm says. “We are here for them to talk to and offer guidance. It’s so important that they learn more about abuse, even though it’s unpleasant.”
Adds Newton, “It’s the last thing people want to think about, but the worst thing is for staff to sit with it alone and not address it.”
To contact the Child Protection Consultation Team, call 617-724-0285 or request the MGH page operator contact the program.
Read more articles from the 04/12/13 Hotline issue.