A Shot at Normal
CHEO - short for Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa - set up a clinic just for fragile kids with complex illnesses. The goal is to ease the burden for parents by listening to them. If that approach works with these families, it'll work for all of us.
So far, the clinic has helped a few dozen over-stressed parents and their seriously ill girls and boys.
Brian talked to parents Karen and Jason Grew who were two of those parents. Their son, Noah Grew is now a typical eleven-year-old kid, but his early life was anything but normal.
Noah was born 7 weeks premature. Shortly after birth, Noah started having choking spells. Doctors discovered that he was born with tracheoesophageal fistula, a condition in which Noah's windpipe and his food tube were joined.
Doctors at Sick Kids in Toronto fixed that, and for a time, Noah seemed okay. He then started to have serious breathing problems. He had poor muscle tone plus severe asthma. The acid in his stomach burned through his esophagus. Add it all up and Noah had become what doctors call a child with complex illnesses. Half a dozen specialists couldn't figure out why Noah kept having choking spells - let alone how to stop them.
The frustrating journey to find out and fix what was wrong with Noah, took a toll on Karen and Jason. They felt lost in the confusing bureaucracy and myriad people they encountered in the hospital.
Help came in form of the Champlain Complex Care Program, a new clinic just for fragile kids. It became the hub which coordinated, scheduled and kept track of all of Noah's medical needs.
The program is run by Dr. Nathalie Major-Cook, a pediatrician who runs the Complex Care Clinic at CHEO. Clinic coordinator, Christine Gregory does the heavy lifting for parents: booking dozens of appointments to see dozens of specialists, managing test results, and creating cheat sheets called a "single point of care" documents or SPOC with a child's medical history that parents can hand over to emergency room doctors.
For parents like the Grews, it helped shoulder an almost unbearable burden.
Alex Munter, CEO of Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario says the program saves money by streamlining the care they provide. Munter says that the program has fixed flaws in the system by seeing things from the patient's and (in this case) the parents' point of view.
With its combination of empathy and fiscal responsibility, there's no reason why this idea that originated in a hospital that treats fragile kids can't work for every patient.