Having spent much of his career in medicine helping children battle poverty, Dr. Benard Dreyer started his visit to UMMC by encouraging future pediatricians to continue the fight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics president started Thursday by speaking with members of the Pediatric Interest Group of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.
“Children are the poorest group in society, more so than adults and seniors,” Dreyer said to about 20 medical students over coffee and croissants. “If you look at the federal poverty level, 20 percent of our children are poor, but in Mississippi, that level is 29 percent.”
While Dreyer's practice has been in the nation's largest city, the problems he's seen children and families face in New York - issues such as obesity from limited food choices, asthma and economic insecurity - are also prevalent in rural areas.
“Poverty,” he said, “is everywhere.”
Ways pediatricians can change children's health outcomes for the better often start with asking parents questions about transportation and access to health care and to food, Dreyer said, noting that addressing poverty and its impact on child health is one of the AAP's top priorities.
“It's really a privilege to have Dr. Dreyer come speak to us,” said Pediatric Interest Group president Logan Ramsey, a second-year medical student from Pontotoc. “There are so many issues that affect children in Mississippi that Dr. Dreyer has also encountered.”
Dreyer gets a tour of the pediatric intensive care unit from Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of pediatric critical care at UMMC.
A general and developmental-behavioral pediatrician, Dreyer is a professor of pediatrics and leads the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at New York University. He is also director of pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital and a hospitalist.
After a morning tour of Batson Children's Hospital, Dreyer was a guest on Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio's “Southern Remedy: Kids & Teens” with Dr. Jimmy Stewart and met with the Children's Health Council, including leaders from the Mississippi Department of Medicaid, the state Health Department, the Mississippi Department of Education, the Mississippi Center for Health Policy, UMMC and Mississippi State University.
“There are so many people trying to do good things here,” Dreyer said, “and I am extremely impressed with their efforts and their passion. That Batson Children's Hospital sees as its mission the health of all children in Mississippi, and not just the ones who are patients in the hospital, shows the level of commitment here.”
Dreyer, left, talks with Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and chair of pediatrics at UMMC, and Dr. Benjamin Dillard, right, professor of pediatric emergency medicine, while touring the pediatric emergency department Thursday.
Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and chair of pediatrics at UMMC, welcomed the opportunity for collaboration with the national pediatrics leader.
“We are honored to have Dr. Dreyer visit UMMC, and there is much we can learn from working together to address problems children and parents face across the country,” Barr said. “His work and the work of the American Academy of Pediatrics is strengthening families and helping children live healthier lives.”