Gift to U children’s hospital boosts services for abused kids

Nancy Harper, M.D., who directs the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children, took the stage at a March 14 news conference announcing the gift.

Nancy Harper, M.D., who directs the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children, took the stage at a March 14 news conference announcing the gift. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

To advance the treatment of 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.

It’s one of the largest donations ever made for a problem that now causes more childhood deaths than cancer annually in the United States.

“This level of financial support will greatly improve our ability to treat more abused and neglected children,” says center director Nancy Harper, M.D. “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.”

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.

Part of the Otto Bremer Trust donation will fund a fellowship program to train more child abuse pediatricians. While there are 26 fellowship programs across the nation designed specifically for treating children who have been abused, no others currently exist in Minnesota, North Dakota, or South Dakota.

The gift also allows Masonic Children’s Hospital to hire another child abuse pediatrician and a program coordinator and to bolster telehealth capabilities to assist with cases in Greater Minnesota.

A relatively new subspecialty, child abuse pediatrics focuses on diagnosing and treating children and adolescents who are suspected victims of any form of child maltreatment, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, factitious illness (medical child abuse), neglect, and psychological and emotional abuse. These physicians are also trained to recognize medical conditions that are often mistaken for abuse and work closely with law enforcement, the judicial system, and community agencies on child safety. 

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

Published on April 5, 2016