Jefferson Leads Fight Against Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, with the aid of a $100,000
grant from the Heinz Family Foundation, is helping to launch the Heinz Family
Foundation Children's Arthritis Network.
The Network is a consortium of healthcare providers across Pennsylvania
who will offer medical, educational and social services programs to children
with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). The Network was formed to provide
care to children with arthritis, regardless of where they live or their
ability to pay. Families living outside large metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania,
who previously had difficulty accessing care for their children because
of travel, financial constraints and limited facilities, will now be able
to receive care within two hours of their homes.
In addition to Jefferson, which will serve as administrative and clinical
hub of the Network, children can receive treatment at the John Heinz Institute
of Rehabilitation Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Hershey Medical
Center, Lehigh Valley Hospital and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.
Balu Athreya, MD, pediatric rheumatologist at Jefferson and A. I. duPont
Hospital for Children and medical director of the Network, believes the
resources made available through the new project will prove invaluable to
the nearly 4,000 children in Pennsylvania with JRA. "As a result of
the cooperation of the clinical centers involved in the project, children
with JRA will receive community-based, coordinated care."
Counseling and support programs for children and their families will serve
as important complements to the clinical services provided through the Network.
"By forming parent groups and educational programming for healthcare
providers and school districts, we hope to provide a close, well-rounded
community-based system of care," explains Patty Rettig, RN, MSN, nurse
practitioner in pediatric rheumatology at Jefferson and co-director of the