Governor Signs Three Bills for Children’s Health
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited St. Louis Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, July 9 to sign three bills for children's health. The laws, which include standardized newborn screening for congenital heart disease and improved reporting and treating of sexual abuse, were drafted with leadership from the medical teams at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
Neonatologists Drs. Sherrie Hauft and Cindy Ortinau, along with Cardiology Director Dr. George Van Hare, collaborated for more than a year to integrate the pulse oximetry screening into routine newborn testing, and played an integral role in creating the new legislation.
A pulse oximeter, is a small cuff that fits around a baby’s hand or foot and reads the level of oxygen in the child’s blood, along with his or her heart rate. The results can help doctors detect several of the most common congenital heart defects.
The physician team also developed information now available for parents on Labor & Delivery units to explain the non-invasive screening, as well as a comprehensive Critical Congenital Heart Disease Program toolkit for other hospitals.
Physicians on the Child Protection team at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, headed by Dr. Adrienne Atzemis, helped create legislation that will help prevent and report child abuse and neglect. (HCS HB 505). This law provides for faster and more efficient reporting of cases of child sex abuse or neglect, by removing barriers for mandatory reporters, and ensuring access to forensic examinations.
A third law (HCS SB 256) will make revisions to the current law known as the safe haven law, which allows parents to abandon a child without prosecution if left in the protection of a medical provider, emergency medical technician, firefighter or law enforcement officer. The new law will increase from 5 to 45 days the amount of time that parents have to make this decision.