The Department of Pediatrics is funding the office. In addition, the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute is contributing $350,000 through its “Structural Racism, Social Injustice and Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health” pilot grant program. Ten research projects will be selected for funding.

 “Dr. Chamberlain’s proven track record with health equity interventions, community engagement and advocacy make her ideally suited to lead this new office,” Leonard said.       

Three-pronged approach

The new office will promote child and maternal health equity by advocating for families in the community, advancing policy changes and supporting research into health inequities.

One new goal is ensuring that research findings on child health inequities are consistently translated into better health policy, Chamberlain said.

“I think it’s inadequate that we don’t know how often health policy is changed because of the scientific evidence we generate with our research,” she said. “We should hold ourselves more accountable to that.”

Pediatricians will partner with government relations officials at Stanford Children’s Health to work with city councils, school boards and other groups that have an interest in improving children’s health, Chamberlain said. “We are taking the partnership between the hospital and the department to a new level to improve how we engage with local elected officials,” she said.

Another goal for the office is to reduce health inequities among patients with complex medical needs, such as children receiving subspecialty care through Stanford Children’s Health. For example, research by Stanford pediatric gastroenterology and endocrinology specialists has shown that children with different types of health insurance have unequal access to diabetes treatment technology, and the team is now identifying strategies to make the latest treatment devices accessible to all patients.

Pediatricians are motivated to make sure their patients can all get the best care, Chamberlain said, adding that she is excited about opportunities to work with physicians from across Stanford Children’s Health.

“As a physician, if you treat one patient one way and one another, you know that’s not just,” she said. “That is a source of burnout and frustration. There are things we can do about it.”