Read my story on accessible Portland travel
Traveling to Oregon's biggest city soon? Here's what you can expect either for wheeled access, sensory supports or other needs
“I’m famous!” my son exclaimed when I showed him pictures of himself on the Travel Portland website.
My guys have always loved the limelight and they have always loved to travel. So it was an exciting day when Travel Portland published my compendium of accessibility accommodations at attractions in and around our metro area.
Check it out here: https://www.travelportland.com/plan/accessible-portland/
In addition to my real-life research buddies — whom you can see testing out attractions like the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry — I also visited, called and searched places for accessibility options. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how many places have been putting at least some thought into the needs of the entire community. Many attractions have webpages you can find just by inserting the name of the location and “accessibility guide” into Google. For example, the Portland Art Museum has an entire staff member dedicated to accessibility and the Portland International Airport has a number of greater-than-standard accommodations, such as a sensory space that’s not just for kids.
The list was designed to be a quick hit on all of the major attractions with links to learn more. It’s a fairly extensive list but of course I could have written a lot more on each attraction.
As I said in the piece, it’s not all sunshine and roses in the rainy City of Roses — there is room for improvement at all the attractions. But the more people travel and talk about these needs, the faster they will improve.
Whether you’re local to Portland or just planning a trip, check out the guide to see what you can expect.
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Medical Motherhood’s news round up
Snippets of news and opinion from outlets around the world. Click the links for the full story.
• From The New York Times: “As Hospitals Close Children’s Units, Where Does That Leave Lachlan?”
“We’re always preparing for battle. It’s just a question of where we’re going to fight,” said his mother, Aurora Rutledge, looking frightened as she twisted the blond ringlets that poked out from under Lachlan’s Spider-Man headphones.
Hospitals around the country, from regional medical centers to smaller local facilities are closing down pediatric units. The reason is stark economics: Institutions make more money from adult patients.
In April, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Va., ended its pediatric inpatient services. In July, Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston followed suit. Shriners Children’s New England said it will close its inpatient unit by the end of the year. Pediatric units in Colorado Springs, Raleigh, N.C., and Doylestown, Pa., have closed as well.
“They’re asking: Should we take care of kids we don’t make any money off of, or use the bed for an adult who needs a bunch of expensive tests?” said Dr. Daniel Rauch, chief of pediatric hospital medicine for Tufts Medicine, who headed its general pediatric unit until it closed over the summer. “If you’re a hospital, that’s a no-brainer.”
Many hospitals have converted children’s beds to adult I.C.U. beds during the pandemic and are reluctant to change them back. Now, staff shortages, inflation — drug costs have increased 37 percent per patient compared to prepandemic levels — low Medicaid reimbursement and dwindling federal subsidies granted during the pandemic have left some health centers operating on negative margins and eager to prioritize the most profitable patients.
[…]The decline of local access to children’s inpatient care began over a decade ago and accelerated during the pandemic. Between 2008 and 2018 — the most recent national data available — pediatric inpatient units in the United States decreased almost 20 percent, and nearly a quarter of children found themselves farther from their nearest pediatric unit.
The steepest decline in pediatric inpatient beds was in rural regions, where large health systems acquired community hospitals and consolidated pediatrics to one campus.
Centering pediatric care in specialized centers can erode a local hospital’s ability to care for a critically ill child, doctors say.
“Children are not small adults,” said Dr. Meredith Volle, a pediatrician at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Ill., who routinely sees patients who travel from two to three hours away. The number of pediatric beds in Illinois has declined, and 48 of its counties now have no pediatrician at all.
[…]Critically ill children are four times as likely to die in hospitals and twice as likely to die in trauma centers that scored low on a “pediatric readiness” test, according to research. Only one-third of children in a national research survey had access to an emergency department deemed highly “pediatric-ready,” and of those, nine out of 10 lived closer to a less-prepared one.
A parent who is unaware of the wide variability, said Dr. Katherine Remick, the executive director of the National Pediatric Readiness Quality Initiative, “could make a split-second decision that changes their child’s fate.”
• From Alabama Political Reporter: “DOJ: Alabama segregates disabled foster kids into inferior schools”
Alabama is providing inadequate education to disabled children in foster care, according to findings released by the U.S. Department of Justice Wednesday.
The report finds that Specialized Treatment Centers (STCs) on the campuses of Alabama’s psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs) fail to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“While some Alabama agencies refer to STCs as ‘on-site schools,’ they differ in numerous and substantial ways from a general education school, including in their physical attributes, the multi-grade composition of the classes, their heavy reliance on online programs in classrooms without certified staff, and an overall and profound lack of resources,” the DOJ said in its findings. “Many STCs also lack grade-appropriate curricula; provide insufficient instructional services and supports, including through their use of shortened school days; and are often unable to provide students with access to facilities that are common in general education settings, such as libraries, gyms, and science labs, or opportunities to participate in sports and extracurricular activities.”
• From The New York Times Opinion section (this one looks particularly cool on a mobile phone): “Can you punish a child's mental health problems away?”
The industry depends on desperate, often compassionate parents, some of whom fall for slick marketing.
Brenda Ballard is the grandparent and legal guardian of Mi’Cayla, a teen in North Carolina who has struggled with suicidal thoughts for years. Ms. Ballard told us about frequently having to stay up through the night to keep watch on Mi’Cayla. On her last legs and worried she might lose her granddaughter, Ms. Ballard turned to the industry for help and sent her to a series of residential treatment facilities.
But last year, after Mi’Cayla told her about being attacked by another patient, according to Ms. Ballard, the program retaliated and restricted communication between Mi’Cayla and her grandmother — even though that’s illegal in the state. Ms. Ballard said she felt trapped, unable to find out what was happening to her granddaughter.
[Universal Health Services] and others have denied that they illegally restrict communication. But some institutions have said they deploy the practice to keep children focused on the program. That also keeps what happens inside inside.
• From Disability Scoop: “Researchers: Majority Of Kids With ASD Miss Out On Early Intervention”
By using data collected between 2006 and 2016 through an autism monitoring system at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, researchers analyzed medical and special education records for 23,441 8-year-olds in Essex, Hudson, Ocean and Union counties. They found that 4,050 of the children qualified for an autism diagnosis, yet only 1,887 had received early intervention before turning 3.
Moreover, the study found that certain factors appeared to influence the odds that children received services as toddlers, with those from wealthier areas 80% more likely to have participated in early intervention and Black and Hispanic children less likely to have accessed the program.
[Lead author Josephine] Shenouda said it’s unclear why these disparities exist, but they could be due to lower rates of autism screening or simply differences in how likely families are to follow up on recommendations. She indicated that the findings show that more work is needed to ensure broader access to services.
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