teen boy in a power chair stirring in a bowl while cooking in the classroom

After years of patient and family interviews, surveys, and focus groups calling for increased support in Healthcare Transition (HCT), Gillette formally kicked off a Pediatric to Adult Healthcare Transition Initiative in late 2023.

The initiative group, led by Tori Bahr, MD, and Rhonda Cady, PhD, consists of a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders from across Gillette — all of whom hope to impact the HCT services offered at Gillette in the future.

Why is healthcare transition so important?

Put simply, everyone ages! Currently, very few healthcare providers have a structured HCT process for pediatric patients with complex medical needs, their parents and caregivers, healthcare staff, and the support community. This lack results in unsafe, fragmented care and causes widespread quality, time, financial, and satisfaction implications.

Dr. Bahr says: “Gillette cares for a unique patient population with lifelong conditions. All our patients will need continued care as they age, which means all the pediatric care they receive must be transitioned. We can’t provide comprehensive adult care for every patient, but we can ensure they are successful in this change to their care. The good news is we already have a lot of the resources needed at Gillette to do this important work!”

Beyond efforts within Gillette, external support further illustrates the hunger our community and families have for structured transition guidelines. For example, patients and families consistently ask for transition resources in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). “Our HCT work naturally builds off community projects like the Health Care Transition Learning Collaborative as well as national and statewide grants received at Gillette in the last four years,” Dr. Cady says, “We’ve received an American Academy of Pediatrics Spina Bifida grant, a COPIC Medical Foundation grant, and two Minnesota Department of Health grants.”

What is the goal of the Initiative?

The group’s overarching mission is to provide Gillette with a comprehensive set of pediatric-to-adult HCT timelines, services, and resources for patients, families, caregivers, and their care teams both inside and outside of Gillette.

“My goal in this work is to continue to advocate for our responsibility to improve our patients’ lives and to create a more inclusive and equitable healthcare transition process,” Dr. Bahr says.

Dr. Bahr’s Top Tip for Transition

We asked Dr. Bahr: If you could snap your fingers and have every pediatric provider immediately adhere to an HCT recommendation, what would that recommendation be and why?

“Instead of waiting until patients are 18, talk about healthcare transition with you patients early and often. Families can’t prepare for what’s to come without knowing what to expect.”

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