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Otto Bremer Trust donates $2.5 million to University of Minnesota Health child abuse treatment program

The donation, announced Monday, will help us provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents who experience child abuse and neglect.
The Otto Bremer Trust's $2.5 million donation was announced on Monday during an event at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. (From left) Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist Joseph Neglia, MD; trustees Daniel Reardon, Charlotte Johnson, and Brian Lipschultz; Pediatrician Nancy Harper, MD; and Karen Kaler were at the announcement to honor this gift, one of largest of its kind ever made in the U.S.

To advance care for abused and neglected children in the region, Otto Bremer Trust is donating $2.5 million to the Center for Safe and Healthy Children at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

The donation is one of the largest ever made in the U.S. for a public health crisis that now causes more childhood deaths annually than cancer.

"The Otto Bremer Trust’s investment toward improving this major children’s health problem is going to benefit so many communities around the region and will allow us to give our area’s most vulnerable patients the highly specialized care they deserve,” said Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist Joseph Neglia, MD, physician-in-chief of Masonic Children’s Hospital. "This partnership will create a healthier future for generations to come, a shared value for each of our organizations.”

The purpose of the Center is to provide a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to the clinical care of children and adolescents who experience child abuse and neglect. It is unique regionally and dedicated to multidisciplinary collaborative health care of victims and families while promoting best practices for evaluation and medical care.   

“As a charitable trust, we are committed to partnering with organizations whose work contributes significantly in moving a community forward in a meaningful, powerful and broad-based way,” said Brian Lipschultz, Co-CEO and Trustee, Otto Bremer Trust. “We embrace the vision of the Center to transform the health and safety of our most vulnerable individuals, while building a comprehensive regional program that provides needed fellowship training, collaborates with other child abuse programs and utilizes new tools, such as telemedicine, to reach remote areas.”     

In recognition of the gift, the Center will formally be renamed the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Enabling Education

The Center for Safe and Healthy Children became the first-of-its-kind regional program in 2014 when it started collaborating with Hennepin County Medical Center and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to provide comprehensive care to abused and neglected patients.  Today, the Center cares for more than 350 children and families annually.

“This level of financial support will greatly improve our ability to treat more abused and neglected children,” said Pediatrician Nancy Harper, MD, medical director of the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children. “It is our hope others in the state and region view this investment as the first step in establishing the Center as a national leader in combating child abuse and toxic stress.”

In 2014, 702,000 children were victims of child maltreatment nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with 75 percent of those cases due to neglect, 17 percent physical abuse, and 8 percent sexual abuse.  Deaths from child abuse occur daily, with 1,580 child deaths the result of abuse each year. By comparison, 1,250 children die annually from childhood cancers.  Those who are most severely affected are the youngest children, with nearly 80 percent of child abuse fatalities occurring among children under four years of age. 

There are only 324 pediatricians nationwide who are specialty trained in child abuse, with 33 percent of these physicians over 55 years of age.  Minnesota has four board-certified child abuse pediatricians in practice and one fellowship trained child abuse physician. 

Part of the Otto Bremer Trust donation will fund an accredited fellowship program to train the next generation of child abuse pediatricians. While there are 26 fellowship programs across the nation designed specifically for child abuse, none exist in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota.

The donation will also make the program financially sustainable, allowing Masonic Children’s Hospital to hire another child abuse pediatrician and a designated program coordinator. In addition, funds will be used to bolster telehealth capabilities and provide education opportunities to assist with cases in greater Minnesota.