Sagor expanding role in keeping foster kids healthy

Pediatrician appointed health care policymaker by Department of Children and Families

April 27, 2012
   Linda Sagor, MD, MPH

Linda Sagor, MD, MPH, clinical professor of pediatrics, can point to many achievements in her distinguished career as a pediatrician, but one that resonates with her especially deeply—improving health care for foster children, whose physical and emotional needs are exceptional—is one to which she will now be devoting much of her boundless energy and enthusiasm.

Dr. Sagor has been named by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (formerly known as the Massachusetts Department of Social Services) as senior consultant on health care system issues for children in foster care. In this role she will be responsible for developing and implementing a plan to improve health care of all children in foster care throughout Massachusetts.

The new plan will be modeled on the Foster Children Evaluation Services (FaCES) Clinic that Sagor established at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center in 2003 to address the lack of timely health screenings and comprehensive exams for children in foster care, and to improve communication among health care providers, state agencies and foster families.

“These children’s lives are full of upheaval, loss and medical problems. To at least start giving them the care they need is essential,” Sagor said of FaCES’ objective to address a situation that often results in serious health problems for foster children and difficulty for foster parents trying to manage their medical care.

FaCES provides health screenings, comprehensive evaluations and a unique medical information system containing all health data for foster children. Initially a pilot, the clinic now sees more than 80 percent of children in foster care in Worcester and surrounding areas, then refers them to a primary care provider, along with their complete records, for ongoing care. "When we started the FaCES Clinic, we hoped that the initial pilot project would lead to programs for children in foster care in other locations in Massachusetts,” Sagor said. “We were delighted when another FaCES Clinic opened in Fitchburg this past fall.”

Sagor will commit half of her time to DCF and she will continue to see patients, but will step down as chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at UMass Memorial Medical Center when a successor is recruited. “This is quite an honor for Linda and indicates the great impact that the FaCES Clinic has had on the care of foster children in our area,” said Marianne Felice, MD, professor and chair of pediatrics.

“I will be working with physicians, educators, judges, foster parents, and, of course, the statewide staff of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in my new position,” said Sagor. “It will be a wonderful opportunity—and a great challenge—to develop systems of medical care for all children in foster care in our state.”