What Is A ‘Medical Home’? Shriners Hospital Sponsors Program On Children With Special Needs

When it comes to ensuring a continuum of care for children with special needs, many are ‘homeless’ — not in the residential sense, but medically.
That’s the concern of Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, which is teaming up with about 20 service agencies on an educational initiative called “Every Child Deserves a Medical Home.”

The program seeks ways to ensure that special-needs children have a ‘medical home,’ or an approach to providing health care services that are accessible, family-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally competent.

For the participating agencies, which include the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Baystate Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Family Voices, and many others, the goal is to use the program as a step in furthering a statewide effort to ensure a medical home for every child with special needs.

“Educational opportunities such as this program are beneficial to health care providers, families, and communities who care for children with special needs,” said Dr. Matthew Sadof, a pediatrician with Baystate Medical Center Children’s Hospital.

“Caring for children with special health care needs at times can be difficult for families and their providers. ‘Medical home’ offers a holistic approach that puts a human face back into the system by shifting care that is traditionally physician-centered toward children and their families.”

National Emphasis

The medical home concept, which will be the focus of a Nov. 8 seminar at Shriners Hospital, has recently been given weight by the 2010 Action Plan for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN), a 10-year plan promoted by the Maternal & Child Health Bureau in the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — a plan endorsed by the AAP, Family Voices, the March of Dimes, and about 50 other national organizations.

The Action Plan’s goal is to assure a medical home by 2010 for all children with special health needs — a group whose needs include increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition; and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that generally required by children.

Among the plan’s objectives is to “increase the proportion of states and territories that have service systems for children with special health care needs.”chieving this objective has been further defined by the federal Material and Child Health Bureau as accomplishing six core outcomes:

Families of CSHCN will participate in decision-making at all levels and will be satisfied with the services they receive;
All CSHCN will receive regular ongoing, comprehensive care within a medical home;
All families of CSHCN will have adequate private and/or public insurance to pay for the services they need;
All children will be screened early and continuously for special health care needs;
Community-based service systems will be organized so families can use them easily; and
All youths with special health care needs will receive the services necessary to make transitions to all aspects of adult life, including adult heath care, work, and independence.
Multiple Strategies

Locally, the upcoming Every Child Deserves a Medical Home program, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 8, will provide strategies and resources for pediatricians, family physicians, allied health professionals, and families to provide optimal care to children with special needs.

Key components of the training include developing strategies for improving family-professional partnerships, maximizing care coordination activities, engaging in the transition of youth to adulthood, understanding the importance of state and local advocacy efforts, and modifying daily practices and procedures that accompany health care for special-needs children.

“This family- and community-centered approach creates strong partnerships between physicians, parents, and community organizations,” Sadof said. “This helps providers and families get in touch with their capacity to grow and meet the ever-changing needs of these children. By recognizing family and provider involvement and supporting their contributions, we can build upon the strengths and shift the focus for these kids from illness to health.”

Registration fees will be assigned on a sliding scale: $50 for physicians, and $25 for nurses, educators, and other health professionals. There is no cost for parents of children with special needs and medical residents. Limited scholarships for families and caregivers of children with special health needs are available to help cover child care and other expenses.

For registration information, call (800) 433-9016, ext. 7081, or E-mail mhtraining@aap.org.

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