Teaching Parenting- The Future of Hospital Wellness- Learn Your ACE score!
As I sit here in Nashville, the nation’s capital of Healthcare, I have been trying to start a dialogue in the hospital world, where hospitals begin to realize that many illnesses are caused by stress.
There was a dramatic moment for me two weeks ago when I heard as NPR radio series related to some clinical research done by a doctor from Kaiser Permanente years ago in San Diego that established a scorecard of early life experience of his patients. It is called an ACE score…Adverse Childhood Experience. He discovered that when he asked his obese patients more about their childhoods, not just their medical history, he found to his great amazement the high percentage of abuse in their lives. Abuse comes in a number of forms and he established a grid of ten questions outlining those various manners of abuse. He found that if his patients scored four or more yes answers to life events, the percentage of increase in MANY bad health outcomes was staggering.
Much to his amazement, the research done and the significant trail of illnesses discovered fell on deaf ears. After hearing the NPR radio shows related to this, I found that there is starting to be a wave of interest in the subject once again. There are a number of groups like ACE Connection and ACE’s TOO HIGH that are promoting the idea that it has to be only a matter of time before the healthcare world incorporates this data into their mainstream strategy of approaching WELLNESS.
Everyone agrees that children are showing up for school less prepared for learning than ever before. I read yesterday that many believe that many of our ADD and ADHD cases could simply be those children who are at risk at home and are suffering from the onslaught of ACE issues. If you haven’t seen or heard of the dramatic number of kids on drugs like Ritalin in early school years, it would stun you for certain. I have been saying out loud for years that you can tell pretty much right away which children are getting the proper help at home and those who aren’t. I used to help edit my wife’s 1st grade report cards and just from her comments about a child’s behavior and learning skills, you could hear in her voice clearly how often after the first parent conference, she could tell why a child was struggling with their learning.
We all see the tide turning worse in the primary education world. So where is the strategy to make the changes necessary to turn the tide in a better direction. Where and who are we going to look to help reduce the number of social services and steadily increasing costs of healthcare that are a result of high ACE scores? The only pragmatic place I see is the hospital. When a mother shows up for a pre-natal appointment, why not have an ACE questionnaire be part of the initial screening. Without that first effort, we will continue to pass on dysfunctional behaviors simply because they don’t know what a good environment looks and feels like.
Billions of dollars are being wasted in healthcare costs and social services because we are not that focusing on prevention of ACE, instead we treat the symptoms that show up as a result of poor parenting. We know that parents will dedicate some time in pre-child care…like Lamaze classes. Yet, we are still in the dark ages of nervousness about being honest about our childhood experiences. Candor in the hospital community about these issues needs to be addressed.
Funny thing, an old client of mine, Richard Umbdenstock, is now CEO of the American Hospital Administration. I had a brief conversation with him a few months ago regarding my efforts to help change the tide of childhood painful life. I read one of his latest speeches and it said the AHA was going to focus on reaching out this year for more Community involvement. Why not start by doing a bit of research on ACE scores for ALL of their patients. Once the community sees that they are not alone in their shame of a dark childhood past, we can begin to address the issue by inviting the parents to a meeting where someone like me, only because I had the proper support as a child, to share a template of what a functional family looks and feels like.
I beg for the opportunity to speak in a lighthearted way about the joy of good parenting and family happiness. I know people are hungry for that connection. Imagine looking forward to Thanksgiving for a change!!! So, join me in learning more about ACE research and finding a way for hospitals to be the true WELLNESS resource they have to be to turn the tide of sadness into a life of joyfulness and comfort for each child born into our crazy world.
You wouldn’t buy a plant and not feed it or nurture it would you? You wouldn’t expect a new computer that is fed a virus on the first day to work properly would you? It works the same for our pets and our children…only YOU can start a child’s life with all the advantages that love can bring to a new heart and mind!