Just learned about the “hero doctor” who helped expose the #FlintWaterCrisis, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha (Director, Pediatric Residency Program, Hurley Medical Center) — interviewed January 15th by Democracy Now! What’s striking (bolded text) was the readily available medical data of young children, which helped verify what was going on with Flint’s water supply and that city’s children.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah. So, in late August, we were hearing reports from the Virginia Tech group that there was lead in the water. And when pediatricians hear about lead anywhere, we freak out. We know lead. Lead, as you said, is a known potent, irreversible neurotoxin. So we wanted to see if that lead in the water was getting into the bodies of children. So that’s when we started doing our research.
And what we found was alarming, but not surprising, based on what we knew about the water. The percentage of children with elevated lead levels tripled in the whole city, and in some neighborhoods—actually, it doubled in the whole city, and in some neighborhoods, it tripled. And it directly correlated with where the water lead levels were the highest. So we shared these results at a press conference, and you don’t usually share research at press conferences. It’s supposed to be shared in published medical journals, which now it is. But we had an ethical, moral, professional responsibility to alert our community about this crisis, this emergency.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the research that you did, all it took was being able to go back in your own—
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —medical records. And it wasn’t a series of new testing that you had to do. Could you talk about that?
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Right. So, we routinely screen children for lead at the ages of one and at ages of two. Medicaid children, who are on public insurance, are recommended to get lead screenings. So we had the data. It was the easiest research project I have ever done. So all we did was go back and look at our data. And we compared the percentage of children with elevated lead levels before the water switch, which was 2013, to 2015, and that water switch happened in 2014.
From 2014 (DK5 doesn’t display twitter image, but it’s Dr. Mona with a young patient in 2014 (the year Flint’s water supply got switched):
Elevated lead found in more Flint kids after water switch, study finds
Crusading doctor shakes head 'no' at Gov. Snyder's Flint news conference
Just a minute from the September 2015 press conference:
FYI @ Medicaid Lead screening:
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