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New M Health Fairview clinic will help address growing child abuse and neglect crisis

At the M Health Fairview SafeChild Clinic, a multi-disciplinary team of pediatricians, social workers, and experts provide compassionate care for child abuse and neglect victims in a calming environment.

A new clinic located next to M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital will expand access to care for children and adolescents affected by child abuse or neglect while advancing national research and advocacy efforts.

The M Health Fairview SafeChild Clinic, which opened on Jan. 20 at 2512 South 7th Street in Minneapolis, is equipped with two specialized exam rooms that will allow a team of dedicated experts to screen families in a calming, trauma-focused environment.

The SafeChild Clinic is part of the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children (CSHC) – a regional treatment center established in 2016 following a $2.5 million catalytic investment from the Otto Bremer Trust.

The center’s team takes a highly specialized approach to abuse and neglect treatment that includes comprehensive medical examinations, detailed psycho-social assessments, and education for families regarding the impact of trauma on children and adolescents. Every family receiving treatment is seen by both a medical provider and a social worker. The center also employs a Child-Family Life Specialist who attends to the emotional and psychological needs of the child.

For three years, the center was co-located at a nearby specialty care clinic, but the center’s growing patient volume required a larger, dedicated space. In Minnesota alone, nearly 39,000 children and teenagers were affected by child abuse or neglect in 2018. Since opening, the clinic’s patient volumes have doubled each year. In 2019, the center provided consultations for more than 700 patients, and that number is expected to grow.

“We are so happy to see our vision become a reality,” said M Health Fairview Child Abuse Pediatrician Nancy Harper, MD, the director of the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children. Harper is also a professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics. “We believe our families as well as our multi-disciplinary team will benefit from the opening of our new space.”

The exam rooms – a key feature of the new space – were carefully designed to meet patient needs, according to Program Coordinator Rebecca Foell, MSW, LICSW.

“We know that having a medical exam following abuse can be emotionally difficult and anxiety-producing,” Foell said. “In order to ensure that children and adolescents feel comfortable when they walk into the exam room, we have created a space that includes color, a mural, and more inviting features.”

The opening of the SafeChild Clinic will also enable the center to add other important services, including trauma screening, screening for suicidal ideation, and services for teens at risk for human trafficking, Foell said.

The expansion of these services is a critical addition to the network of local healthcare providers collaborating to treat child abuse and neglect, Foell said. The Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children has close partnerships with Hennepin Healthcare, CornerHouse Child Advocacy Center, and Midwest Children’s Resource Center.

The center is also a regional and national leader in advocacy, research, and education. This year, the center will host its third annual Child Abuse Summit for regional and national experts on May 4-6 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children is a refuge providing comprehensive, compassionate care for families affected by child abuse and neglect. Learn more about our services.