AUSTIN (KXAN) — Life can be very difficult for a child with serious medical issues. Tough on the parents too. Imagine a special needs child with multiple medical problems. That can mean a lot of constant visits to a lot of specialists, as well as repeat trips to the ER. Seton and the Dell Children’s Medical Center have a pilot program now, a one stop shop where all the child’s needs can be met.
19 year old Manuelito Gomez has scoliosis. He cannot talk or walk and is fed through a tube. His and his mom’s lives were consumed with medical visits from one end of town to the other. Ascencion Gomez relates, “His health is very delicate and when he’d get sick we’d take him to a clinic and we’d have to wait six to eight hours to be seen by the doctor on call and since he has a special condition it was very hard to know what he was going through.”
Dr. Rahel Berhane, medical director at the Children’s Comprehensive Care Clinic explains the problems for such parents, “They have to take their child to waiting rooms, waiting rooms of all these different specialists, telling their story over and over again, filling out forms over and over again. And just taking one child to a doctor’s appointment is hard enough.” Now they come to one place, the comprehensive care clinic. There are more than 30 nurses, doctors, specialists, and behavioralists all under one roof to help treat the youngster for whatever life has thrown at them.
Dr. Berhane says, “There’s quite a care coordination required just because there’s so many different professionals, different specialists. All that needed to be coordinated. It’s easy here because we are part of the same organization, we use the same electronic medical records, there are colleagues we can text and call on the phone.”
For Manuelito and his mother the clinic is a life changer. She says, “My life, Manuelito, my whole family, is much happier at this clinic. Because I’ve never had no for an answer. They always tell me wait a moment we will see what we can do for you. It is like I’m a daughter and I have found my mother.”
The clinic is also a relief for Valerie Griffin. Her ten year old son Jalen has Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome. His underdeveloped chest is causing all sorts of respiratory problems. They’re finding the help they need now. Asked how her life has changed, she says, “It was very busy, I had to have a planner for all the doctors appointments. I would have to go to one place, just all over the place. Now it’s really nice to be able to come to one place.”
Jalen underwent his twelfth surgery a week ago to refit his titanium implant that expands his rib cage. Asked how he deals with that, he pauses and says, “I’m kind of used to it…and it’s kind of scary.”
You find several major cities trying this concept and Austin is now one of them. Dr. Berhane says it best, “It is a transformative experience for all of us. For those of us who work with the families and brave children and see what they go through, we are changed by it. We are inspired by it.”