July, 2018

Dave Gilchrist, MD

Family physicians are uniquely positioned to know how the mental and physical health of each member of a family unit can impact that family as a whole. We walk alongside our patients as they struggle individually with chronic disease, terminal illness, addiction, mental health disease, when life is just stressful as well as in health.

The recent news and policies of our nation have reminded us of how important it is that family units remain strong together, especially in difficult situations. As undocumented immigrant children have been separated from their families, we realize the impact that this traumatic experience can have on these young children.

For those of you familiar with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, we have learned how negative and positive childhood experiences can have a significant impact on our patients' well-being outcomes throughout their lives. Some of our members have expertise in this area much more than I have but it is clear that separation of families is an unmistakable negative childhood experience.

If you did not see it in the AAFP news, our national organization had released a letter urging reunification for children with their families while in detention and access to medical professionals to assess the physical and mental health of these children. Statements from our national academy such as "Once on American soil, regardless of their citizenship status, migrating children are the concern of the American Academy of Family Physicians" make me proud to be a family physician.

While each one of us may not personally care for families impacted by these immigration policies, we must make it clear that family doctors will be there to help.

Dave Gilchrist, MD