Statement on Passing of Dr. Natalia Tanner

Dr. Natalia Tanner Cain, known for breaking down barriers in the field of medicine as a second-generation African-American physician, died on July 14, 2018 in Southfield, Mich. She was 96.

Dr. Tanner was the first African-American to serve as the president of Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MIAAP) and the first African-American woman to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She practiced medicine in the Detroit area for decades and was also a professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Still, the road to Dr. Tanner’s success was not easy and she faced discrimination head-on along the way.

She was featured in the August 2011 AAP News magazine and said she was initially denied an appointment at Children’s Hospital of Michigan because of her skin color. Later, she became the first African-American board-certified pediatrician on staff there. She also struggled to get her AAP membership transferred from Illinois to Michigan when she moved to Detroit in the 50s. Dr. Tanner became president of the MIAAP in 1983.

Current MIAAP President Teresa Holtrop, MD, FAAP, said she feels honored to have known Dr. Tanner. 

“Years ago, she told me about her plans to write a book about her experiences as a pediatrician, recounting the challenges she faced as a ‘first’ in several arenas. A couple of years ago I ran into her again at one of our conferences and asked her whether she had ever written the book. At the time, she admitted that she hadn’t yet and I urged to her to put her experiences on paper,” Dr. Holtrop said. “I really hope that she did so, because her life was quite extraordinary. She was inspiring in her indomitable spirit.  Well into her 90s she continued to attend weekly grand rounds at Children’s Hospital of Michigan as well as the MIAAP’s Annual Conference, a sign of her inquisitive mind and energy. We have a lot to learn from her example.”

The AAP News article credits Dr. Tanner with lobbying the Michigan Legislature for the successful passage of car seat legislation and for initiating collaboration between the AAP and the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing African-American physicians.

Dr. Tanner received numerous awards as a practitioner, professor and advocate, and has been recognized for her many firsts. Read more about Dr. Tanner’s life and legacy at on.freep.com/2vp0IfV.

Funeral Service Details:

Public Viewing for family and friends: Friday, August 3, 2018, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Swanson Funeral Home West, 14751 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit, Michigan.

 Omega Omega Ceremony: Friday, August 3, 2018, Performed by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 6 p.m to 7 p.m., Plymouth United Church of Christ, 600 East Warren Ave., Detroit, Michigan.

 Services: Saturday, August 4, 2018, Family Hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Funeral at 11 a.m., Plymouth United Church of Christ, 600 East Warren Ave., Detroit, Michigan.

 In lieu of flowers, the family will be establishing a scholarship memorial fund.

 

 

Opinion: Learn the lessons of the past to help children in our care

It is common to hear ‘History repeats itself’ and unfortunately I see it happening in the area of immigration. After separating many children from their parents at our nation’s borders the government seems to be solely focused on reunification. While that is an important part of the process it will never make families whole. Children separated from their parents not only face a mental health crisis now but will for years to come. This is an area where the past can help us understand present conditions.

In 1923, the German-French border was being contested and as a result my mother, who was 3 at the time, was separated from her parents. She and her two young siblings were sent to live with family in Germany. It was several months before the three siblings saw either parent again. While the family eventually grew to include seven children, the oldest three—those who lived through that traumatic separation event—all suffered from lifelong major depression and two committed suicide.

I was 12 when my mother died. She was a well-respected physician in her adopted community in Michigan, yet was unable to obtain adequate mental health support. The mental health struggles and suicides of my mother, aunt and uncle reverberated through the next generation, affecting me, my siblings and cousins.

Many years later, medical studies would help us to understand how damaging Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) really are. The ACE studies provide a scientific explanation of the biological mechanisms behind why the three oldest of seven siblings ended up suffering so strikingly while none of the others did. Experiencing severe traumatic stress at a young age does not just go away. It physically prunes the connections in the emotional centers of the brain needed to form strong attachments and develop empathy as an adult. Traumatized children are much more likely to grow into adults with mental health issues. Certain genes turn on or off, increasing the likelihood of physical health issues, including hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

It is physically nauseating for me as a pediatrician, and a daughter, to listen to the news reports of the ongoing separations of asylum-seeking children from their parents, and the trauma we are currently putting young families through in the United States. Many of these families are fleeing significant violence in their homeland. To inflict separation on top of that is creating unnecessary physical and mental stress on young children who cannot fully comprehend the situation they are placed in.

Just as we expect parents to be responsible for the health and welfare of their children, we as Americans should also demand our government to be responsible for the health and welfare of the children in OUR care. Humanity requires us to ask if these actions are how other humans should be treated. As Americans, we would never require that a child be sexually abused or watch his mother be beaten but we are creating toxic stress in another form by not addressing the long term needs of these children. I encourage everyone to remember the lessons of our families’ pasts, and to face the future with these children and their families and not turn away.

Teresa Holtrop, M.D., is the president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and executive/medical director of the Wayne Children's Health Access Program.

Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Opposes Family Separation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MIAAP) today detailed its opposition to the policy of immigrant child detention and family separation.

“The Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages our U.S. legislators from Michigan, in the strongest possible terms, to do everything possible to immediately cease  the current practice of separating immigrant children from their parents,” said MIAAP President Dr. Teresa Holtrop. 

Separating children from their parents creates highly stressful situations, known as toxic stress. Studies have shown that toxic stress disrupts brain development and increases the likelihood of chronic conditions as children develop. 

“Separating children from trusted adults is extremely traumatizing and has lifelong negative medical and mental health consequences. These actions are nothing short of federally sanctioned child abuse,” said MIAAP President-Elect Dr. Sharon Swindell. “The MIAAP supports the national American Academy of Pediatrics position against the separation of children from their families.  As a country that prides itself on having moral obligations, we feel that the current federal policy is untenable.” 

The MIAAP wants all children to have a healthy, productive childhood. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have failed the overall health and wellbeing of children with their recent actions.

 

 

 

 

Michigan ACE Initiative Video

The Michigan ACE Initiative is focused on expanding efforts toward a statewide awareness of the Adverse Childhood Experiences and creating a statewide coalition to recommend development of appropriate interventions and state policy. Thank you to everyone who participated in this Michigan specific video, including MIAAP board members Dr. Teresa Holtrop and Dr. Bob Sprunk. 

I Vaccinate

The Parent Information Network (PIN), comprised of MIAAP and Michigan’s leading health care providers, on March 20, came out in strong support of the newly launched “I Vaccinate” initiative from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and Franny Strong Foundation. This campaign will be an important tool in raising awareness of the importance of vaccines and the role they play in preventing deadly diseases.

“It’s incredibly important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated,” said pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University, Michael Stiffler, MD. “It not only protects their own family’s health, but the health of their communities as well.”

Recent data revealed Michigan’s childhood immunization rates as one of the lowest nationwide, putting the entire state at risk for an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases. Safe and effective, vaccines are the best way to protect children from deadly, preventable illnesses. Find resources, facts about vaccines, and more at IVaccinate.org.