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Irwin Redlener, M.D.
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President and Co-Founder, Children's Health Fund

Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness
Director, Program on Child Well-Being and Resilience
The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Professor of Health Policy & Management
Professor of Pediatrics
Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Irwin Redlener is president and co-founder, with singer/songwriter Paul Simon, of the Children’s Health Fund, a unique nonprofit organization dedicated to providing health care to disadvantaged children and families in the United States. Under his leadership, Children’s Health Fund has grown to become a national network of more than 50 mobile and fixed site pediatric clinics providing more than 250,000 health care encounters each year in 25 of the nation’s most medically underserved urban and rural communities.

Dr. Redlener has initiated a new special initiative on “Healthy and Ready to Learn” which endeavors to ensure that no child suffers from health-related concerns that can interfere with early development or success in school.

Dr. Redlener directs the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Also, at the Earth Institute, he founded and directs the Program on Child Well-Being and Resilience.

In his role as pediatrician-child advocate and president of Children’s Health Fund, Dr. Redlener has published, spoken and testified extensively on the subjects of health care for medically underserved and indigent children and national health policy. Dr. Redlener also speaks and writes about a broad range of issues, including national disaster preparedness policies, the special vulnerability of children, the threat of terrorism in the U.S., and the impact and consequences of major natural disasters. He is the author of Americans At Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared For Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now, published in August 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. He is currently working on a book about the challenges of assuring that every child reaches his or her full potential and the implications of child-friendly policies on the long-term success of societies.

Dr. Redlener has assisted relief efforts- and provided critical evidence-based policy recommendations - around many of the most important U.S. disasters over the past two decades. He has been an advisor both on disaster policy, as well as health-related policy, to local, state and federal officials and agencies.

From 1971-73 he directed a rural, VISTA-run health center in East Arkansas. Dr. Redlener also served as director of grants and medical director of USA for Africa and Hands Across America. In 1993, Dr. Redlener served as a member of the White House Task Force on Health Reform under President Clinton. From 1997 through 2003, Dr. Redlener also had a lead role in the development of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, where he served as president and chief spokesperson. This hospital remains one of the most advanced and innovative facilities of its kind in the world.

Dr. Redlener received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine, and pediatric training at Babies Hospital of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, the University of Colorado Medical Center and the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from Hunter College of the City University of New York and Hofstra University, among numerous other awards and honors.

Entries by Irwin Redlener, M.D.

Climate Change and Geopolitics: What's Really at Stake

(12) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 12:49 PM

Co-authored by Elisaveta Petkova, DrPH, MPH

By most accounts, December's international climate conference in Paris was an unexpected and landmark success. Virtually every nation on earth now understands what's at stake and all have reached common understanding about what needs to be done to slow the advance of unmitigated planetary...

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DC's Metro Calamity: A Lesson in Preparation and Response

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 6:21 PM

Earlier this year, members of Congress voiced their frustration during a recent House Oversight Committee hearing, blasting the subway system of our nation's capital for an event deemed "entirely predictable" and a major sign of "weakness." What were they referring to? On Jan. 12, smoke filled the DC...

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Protecting the World's Biggest Marathon, How New York City Got It Right

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 5:25 PM

A runner I am not. You would not have found me among the 53,000 extraordinary athletes and regular folks from every corner of the globe who came to participate in the recent 2014 New York City Marathon. But I was there, at the finish line, where the city -- along...

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Politicians (and Lobbyists) Condone Children Working in America's Tobacco Fields

(1) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 12:33 PM

Well, it's finally happened. A situation is starting to bubble into the public consciousness that has brought me to the very limits of my ability to absorb one more jaw-dropping example of how government has truly abandoned any pretense of protecting or nurturing our children.

The New...

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Bipartisan Kumbaya for the Potato Lobby, But Who Cares About Children?

(1) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 4:01 PM

Never heard of the "potato lobby"? Well it exists -- and their representatives are weighing in with big dollars -- $120,000 last year alone, to undermine one the nation's most effective nutrition programs for pregnant women and young children.

Formally called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and...

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Declaration on the Well-Being of NYC's Children

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 2:39 PM

Written by the New York City Advisory Council on Child Well-Being. See full list at bottom of the page.

The New York City Advisory Council on Child Well-Being endorses Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio's call for universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds, and after-school for middle-school children, as part of a bold and...

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A Healthy Future for Immigrant Children Is a Healthy Future for the Nation

(2) Comments | Posted April 30, 2013 | 6:43 PM

After years of postponing the inevitable, the U.S. is finally on the verge of reforming our dysfunctional immigration policies. For millions of immigrant families who have committed themselves to building better lives for themselves and their communities, change cannot come too soon. And for the children in these families, their...

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President Obama's Budget: Finally Good News (Mostly) for Kids

(2) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 1:54 PM

President Obama's 2014 budget proposal contains a lot of good news for children and families on the rough edges of America's struggling economy, putting real teeth behind his recent calls for creating ladders of opportunity and helping to level the playing field for millions of Americans wrestling with poverty.

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Barack Obama and America's Children: Can a Tragedy Refocus a Nation's Priorities?

(4) Comments | Posted January 11, 2013 | 4:49 PM

The children of Newtown are back at school. The media storm over the tragedy is, not surprisingly, fading into the background as headlines now focus on budget crises and the politics of presidential appointments. Although the lives of the families in that once quiet Connecticut community have been irrevocably altered,...

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The Politics of Disaster: How Leaders Can Transcend Bare-Knuckle Politics for the Public Good

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 3:21 PM

There are some important lessons to be drawn from the extraordinary confluence of Hurricane Sandy blasting its way through the northeast, just as we get to the final days of one of the most contentious national political campaigns in memory.

Bush v. Gore in 2000 had plenty of drama,...

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For America's Families: ACA Just What the Doctor Ordered

(2) Comments | Posted July 2, 2012 | 3:07 PM

Although it's hard to believe, it wasn't just politicians and pundits of every conceivable stripe who waited with excited anticipation for the Supreme Court to announce its ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Just imagine what was at stake for ordinary citizens and families across the country.

Children in...

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Off the Radar: Why Does the National Political Dialogue Ignore the Impact of Long-Term Child Poverty on America's Future?

(8) Comments | Posted February 7, 2012 | 5:34 PM

This post is part of a series on childhood poverty in the United States in partnership with Save the Children and Julianne Moore. Moore leads the organization's Valentine's Day campaign, through which cards are sold to support the fight against poverty. To learn more or to purchase the cards, click...

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Preparing for Disasters: Where's the Science?

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2011 | 3:53 PM

Co-authored by Dr. Sandro Galea, Gelman Professor and Chair of Epidemiology, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

The tenth anniversary of September 11 presents an opportunity to assess the progress made in the U.S. capacity to respond more effectively to a...

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America Unprepared: Are Budget Cuts Undermining National Disaster Readiness?

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2011 | 3:16 PM

Improving the nation's state of readiness, response and recovery capacity has been a slow and painful process since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The establishment of an enormous new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with major disaster response programs across the federal government, was nothing if not...

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Japan: What if It Happened Here?

(1) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 4:27 PM

In a strange turn of events, a mind-numbing humanitarian crisis caused by this month's massive 9.0 earthquake, an enormous tsunami and hundreds of aftershocks has been nearly overshadowed by a growing crisis from damaged nuclear power plants along Japan's northeast coast.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of survivors -- men, women...

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The Dangers of Cutting Children's Health Programs to Balance the Budget

(4) Comments | Posted March 16, 2011 | 1:40 PM

There is no denying that in this difficult budget climate, politicians are facing tough decisions. Astronomical budget and debt challenges have given many experts cause for serious concern regarding the stability of the U.S. economy. State and federal programs -- including many that affect children -- are being slashed to...

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Cutting Health Care for Children? Bad Medicine for a Broken Economy

(7) Comments | Posted March 1, 2011 | 4:08 PM

For nearly 50 years, Medicaid has served as a health care safety net for the poor, reducing the burden on families during periods of individual and national economic hardship. One in three children nationwide currently relies on health services provided through Medicaid.

Yet, in response to serious budget shortfalls...

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Bring It On: New Mobile Clinic Set to Provide Free Health Care to Detroit's Kids

(1) Comments | Posted December 6, 2010 | 10:33 AM

In April 2009, Children's Health Fund (CHF) and its supporters, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and signer/songwriter Paul Simon, kicked off the Kids Can't Wait campaign - an effort to expand health care services to disadvantaged children and raise national awareness of health care access challenges facing America's children.


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Fighting for Survival: Sustainability in the Gulf

(9) Comments | Posted November 1, 2010 | 6:50 PM

Five years after Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, assessing the progress of recovery from this complex, massive disaster remains fraught with contradictions and conflicting conclusions. Random conversations with business owners, politicians, community leaders, and artists range from outright despair to unbridled optimism, and every nuanced perspective in...

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All Eyes on California and Arizona as the Bellwether States Decide Future of Child Health Safety Net Programs

(8) Comments | Posted March 29, 2010 | 1:57 PM

The passage into law of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act presents a historic moment in the health care narrative of our country. But health reform, and the promise it holds, comes at a time of budgetary crisis in our country, states are facing growing, long-term deficits and a lack...

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