Who: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
New role: Will lead a partnership between Flint, Mich.-based Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine tasked with researching and taking action to treat and mitigate the exposure of Flint's children to high levels of lead in the city's water supply. She is director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley and also an assistant professor of pediatrics at MSU.
Initial steps: The initiative will continue to assess the scope and severity of the lead exposure, along with long-term monitoring to identify physical effects. The initiative will span healthcare, nutrition and education.
Silent epidemic: Myriad neurological effects are associated with lead exposure, some of which are irreversible. Hanna-Attisha said lead exposure is “a silent epidemic,” noting that a 1-year-old may seem normal, but lead's effects often don't emerge until years later, especially cognitive deficits.
Long haul: Hanna-Attisha said the initiative has no end date, explaining that lead exposure is a multigenerational public health issue in a city already struggling with other problems such as high rates of unemployment and incarceration. “There is no pill a child can take for lead poisoning,” she said. “This is a reinvestment in children and in the city.”