U.S. Sen. Casey joins families, doctors at CHOP to urge for pediatric-hospital funding

Posted: April 14, 2014

FOR GREG and Gracie Pfeiffer, having a son born with a genetic disorder affecting his skull called for the expertise of craniofacial specialists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Doctors diagnosed their son, Danny, with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, a rare condition. Nearly 14 years later, Danny has had five reconstructive surgeries.

"My doctors make me feel like an unstoppable person even through the hard times of surgeries," Danny said. "My doctors are my superheroes."

Danny's story was showcased yesterday to illustrate the importance of continuing the funding of medical resident programs at CHOP and other U.S. pediatric hospitals. The Pfeiffer family joined doctors and Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey at CHOP to urge Congress to boost funding for the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education Support Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Casey's bill, which passed last year but is being eyed by the Obama administration for program cuts in 2015, provides for extra funding for medical residents in select pediatric hospitals across the country.

"We insist that children in this city and commonwealth and country get the best health care in the world," Casey said. "Nothing less than that is good enough for our children."

The Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Program, first enacted by Congress in 1999 and reauthorized twice since, provides more than 50 children's hospitals in 30 states with federal funding to train doctors.

In 2011, hospitals in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh received more than $32 million in funds through the program.

CHOP trains 140 residents and has 240 fellowships per year. The hospital receives more than $15 million a year through the program.

"The money from this program really helps us to provide first-rate education," CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler said.

"Danny has always been at risk to have pressure on his brain, but he has never had it because of [CHOP]," Gracie Pfeiffer said. "We take [CHOP] for granted. If they are teaching other doctors how to do what they are doing here, a lot of kids that can benefit from it."

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