The Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
recently held its annual meeting and during the meeting, Rick Wheat, CEO of the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home
was honored for his extensive work to improve the health of children in Louisiana.
Wheat was honored with the Sandra C. Adams Award, an award that recognizes a non-physician in their efforts to improve the health of children in Louisiana through advocacy and community involvement.
"None of us at the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home work alone," said Wheat. "From the dietary staff who prepare meals for our children’s home residents to the Methodist Foster Care workers who support our therapeutic foster families all over Louisiana, from the business office staff who work hand-in-hand with our Health Information Management department, to the clinicians who provide treatment services in partnership with our Mental Health Specialists, no one at the Home works alone in the pursuit of our mission."
Sandra C. Adams served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana MCH Coalition from January 1, 1990, when it began, until her retirement on June 20, 2009.
The Coalition is a non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving health care for women and children. Ms. Adams was a registered lobbyist at the Louisiana Legislature and worked on a variety of issues including prenatal care, well-child care, adolescent pregnancy, Medicaid eligibility, health insurance reform and comprehensive school health.
Wheat began his career at the Home in 1989 as a Family Therapist. Since then, Wheat has worked as the Director of several of the Home's different departments, including Admissions, Life Skills, Information Services, and Quality Assurance.
In 2011, Wheat was selected to lead the Children's Home thanks in part to his extensive work in the organization and his incredible dedication to the children served by the home.
Since that time, Wheat has had the great fortune to lead a remarkable staff of over 500 dedicated caregivers during the expansion of the Life Skills Traning Program, the re-institution of Methodist Foster Care, the provision of excellent intensive residential services provided by three Methodist Children's Homes, the expansion of counseling services through the Family Counseling Center and the creation of innovative community support programs at the Outdoor Wilderness Learning (OWL) Center.
Wheat is quick to credit not only the staff of the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home but also the support of the entire Conference. "We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and supporters who help make our work possible as United Methodists have a heart for Louisiana's children," says Wheat. "Our children do best when they are surrounded by adults who work in their best interest - juvenile judges, CASA workers, social workers, and pediatricians - especially pediatricians. Our kids' health needs tend to exceed those of the general public."
The Louisiana Methodist Children's Home exists for a single reason: to pursue its mission to guide children and families home to experience God's love by following the teachings of Christ.
"Pediatricians and nurses do so much to enhance the health of our children," Wheat added. "Repeated foster care placements lead to lack of social attachment, which leads to low self-esteem, which leads to low attention to self and poor self-care. Pediatricians understand the special health care needs of children in the child welfare system. What many forget, too, is that pediatricians are often the first to identify subtle signs of child neglect."