Helping pediatric patients doesn’t stop at giving check-ups and dispensing prescriptions for Dr. Diane Pappas, pediatrician and director of child advocacy at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Her work through the Child Health Advocacy Program (CHAP), connects pediatric patients with the resources that they lack due to economic hardship. Thanks to a $7,000 grant from The BAMA Works Fund in the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Pappas can further her cause. The funds will be used for The UVA Diaper Duty program, which distributes diapers to economically disadvantaged pediatric patients who come to UVA’s Primary Care Center Pediatric Clinic.
“Adequate diaper changes are essential to the health, hygiene and well-being of infants,” said Pappas. “The recommended number of times an infant under the age of one year needs to be changed is six to eight times per day. The cost of changing a normal newborn six times per day for one year using Pampers purchased at Sam’s Club is approximately $700 per year.”
When diapers are stretched to save money and babies get changed less frequently, urine can irritate the skin and cause rashes. In severe cases, rashes can cause pimples and blisters or become infected. Since its inception, the Diaper Duty program has given 66,000 diapers to families in need. The program was developed and implemented by pediatric interns, faculty and staff at the UVA Children’s Hospital in partnership with the Blue Ridge Care Connection for Children (BRCCC). UVA medical student volunteers, like Pooja Mehta, also are essential to the program’s operation.
“I was interested in doing more community service, and Dr. Pappas mentioned opportunities to get involved with child advocacy and the diaper duty program really touched me,” said Pooja Mehta, medical student in the UVA School of Medicine. “I met a family who was struggling to make ends meet and was really banking on receiving aid for diapers, but unfortunately the funding for the program was becoming depleted.”
The family’s need inspired Mehta to apply for the BAMA works grant.
“I have found that when families have less financial stress, they can focus their attention on meeting the emotional, educational, and medical needs for their infant. Thankfully, the Charlottesville community is very giving and there were several opportunities to raise money.”
The UVA Diaper Duty program began in 2005 in order to improve the health and well-being of infants from the poorest families who receive care at the University of Virginia. Distribution of diapers began in December 2006 and has helped two hundred thirty-eight families so far. These families come from a large geographic area, including the city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Greene, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Culpeper.