Georgetown Selected Home to CDC Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (Feb. 9, 2015) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (new window) (CDC) has selected Georgetown University’s School of Nursing & Health Studies (new window) as the new academic home for the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, a regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (new window).

According to the CDC, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) “bring together a unique combined expertise of pediatric and occupational environmental medicine in order to improve environmental health for children.” The mission of the Mid-Atlantic Center is to improve the recognition, evaluation and management of environmental health problems and reduce environmental health disparities among children.

Laura Anderko, PhD, RN (new window), the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Chair in Values Based Health Care at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, will direct the Mid-Atlantic Center at Georgetown, which covers the District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

“The Mid-Atlantic Center will provide information to the public and consultation to health professionals around environmental risks that impact children,” explains Anderko. She says that task addresses day-to-day issues the public and health providers face. It also helps support regional response capacity should there be an occurrence of a large event exposing children to toxins or a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or wildfire, which would expose children to a variety of environmental health risks.

“Children are especially vulnerable to exposures to environmental hazards as they breathe, drink and eat more per pound of body weight than adults, thereby receiving a greater exposure than adults,” Anderko explains. “Children also behave differently than adults, and these behavioral differences impact their exposures.”

The region three PEHSU was formerly housed at Children’s National Medical Center. The CDC awarded Anderko more than $700,000 for a period of five years to direct the federally funded initiative at Georgetown. The award is administered through the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“We’re pleased that Dr. Anderko has been tapped to lead this federal initiative,” says Patricia Cloonan, PhD, RN, interim dean of the School of Nursing & Health Studies. “The Mid-Atlantic Center aligns with our mission of advancing the health and well-being of individuals and communities, as well as specific goals to address health disparities within the community.”

There are more than a dozen PEHSUs located within the United States, Canada and Mexico. To read more about PEHSUs, click here (new window).

About the School of Nursing & Health Studies

Founded in 1903, the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) at Georgetown University Medical Center is a dynamic academic organization dedicated to its mission, “Advancing the health and well-being of individuals and communities.” The school houses academic departments in health systems administration, human science, international health and nursing. In addition, the NHS includes multimillion-dollar research program.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.