The human body is a miraculous makeup of coordinated and interconnected systems that, when operating properly, are a wonder to behold. But when things aren’t operating correctly, this interconnectedness can cause a whole host of complications.
Many children who have complex medical conditions may have complex upper airway, breathing and swallowing problems. The diagnosis and treatment of these conditions often require evaluations by a pediatrician, otolaryngologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, speech therapist, and a variety of other specialists. That said, it’s easy to see how quickly the individual appointments can start to rack up.
This issue is precisely why Gillette’s Aerodigestive Clinic was established last year.
“We’ve always provided comprehensive care at Gillette, but we knew we could do more to streamline the process for our patients and their families,” says Art Beisang, MD, a complex care pediatrician at Gillette and co-lead of the Aerodigestive Clinic. “We’ve essentially condensed what could be four or five individual appointments down to one. We gather all of the specialists that our patients require together in one room and we’ve found that it’s been much more conducive to walking out of that appointment with a concrete plan and next steps.”
Families Agree, “It’s incredibly helpful”
MaryAnn Nelson’s daughter, Rachael, is 16 years old. Her family received her diagnosis of Rett Syndrome when she was just 18 months old. They’ve been coming to Gillette for years.
“Rachael has had multiple cases of aspiration pneumonia throughout her life. We were thrilled about the new Aerodigestive Clinic,” MaryAnn says. “We already had all of the services that the clinic provides, but to have all of the people Rachael sees together, in one place, was remarkable. Our first appointment was two hours long. To be able to go around the room and address not just what was going on with Rachael medically, but also what was realistic in terms of the day-to-day management of her care, it’s the type of thing that you didn’t know you needed until you saw it in action.”
Beisang will tell you, the benefits for the patients and families aren’t the only positive results that have come out of the Aerodigestive Clinic.
“I know that there are aspects of medical care that are behind the scenes and may matter less to our families, but working in medicine is a perpetual learning process,” Beisang says. “When you spend time with an otolaryngologist like Micah Berman, a pulmonologist like Christina Mikesell as well as our other incredibly qualified specialists, there is so much that we learn from one another. Again, I don’t know how much that might matter to the families we see, but I’d like to think that they appreciate this environment of collaboration, because, in the end, the most important collaboration we have is with our patients and families themselves.”
If you or your family member are a current patient at Gillette and feel that an appointment at the Aerodigestive Clinic could be beneficial, please contact your current provider or ask about it at your next appointment.