In the United States, approximately one in twenty-five children is considered “medically complex.” What this means is that these are individuals who have multiple chronic and severe health conditions.
Navigating the landscape of health care can be difficult for anyone, but for parents of children who have complex medical needs, getting the care their children require can present arduous and unique challenges. Luckily, Madeleine Gagnon, MD and the medical staff in the Complex Care Services department at Gillette Children’s are actively working to change that.
“This patient population has been chronically underserved historically, and some experts project that the number of complex children will double within the next ten years,” Gagnon says. “At Gillette, it’s always been our goal to maximize the quality of life for our patients, but we knew we could do more. It’s why we’ve chosen to expand the Complex Care Services team as well as the scope of the care we provide.”
The Complex Care Services department at Gillette will now provide care for their patients in three distinct and complementary ways:
“There’s no one way to treat this patient population, so we knew we would have to approach this from several angles,” Gagnon says. “In the Complex Care Clinic, we focus on centralizing and coordinating care for our most medically complex children and young adults. In the Quick Care Clinic, we focus on patients experiencing minor illnesses that require non-urgent care from providers who have training and experience in acute complex pediatrics. Additionally, the PrePARE program at Gillette offers comprehensive, specialty-focused risk assessment and anticipatory guidance for our patients who have upcoming, high-risk surgical procedures.”
A Personal Connection
At Gillette, our providers work with patients who have disabilities on a daily basis, so our staff is well versed in many of the challenges our kids and their families face. For Gagnon, though, her connection is much more personal. Growing up, her sister, Marquelle, was a Gillette patient.
“I think it’s easy to focus too much on what our patients need medically and forget about the day-to-day, real-life issues they also have to deal with,” Gagnon says. “Mainly, I think it helps that I’ve been on the other side of things. Whether it’s something as trivial as a light dusting of snow, or actively working with our patients’ insurance providers to make sure they’re getting the authorizations they need, we do our best to run interference and incorporate those concerns that often exist within the margins of health care.”
A New Level of Care
For families like that of Ronin Millette, 1, whose birth and development was complicated by Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), or a lack of oxygen to the brain at the time of his birth, the complex care services team is providing much-needed assistance.
“Having a medically complex child can be a fairly isolating experience. For the first few months of Ronin’s life, we felt like every time he was having an issue and we took him into the clinic or urgent care, no one seemed to know what to do with him,” Ronin’s mother, Emily Millette says. “It wasn’t until we came to Gillette that things changed. Meeting Dr. Gagnon was actually kind of overwhelming. No doctor had ever spent that kind of time with us before. She and the team helped us get on track with a diagnosis, as well as help schedule future appointments with specialists both inside and outside Gillette.”
To the Millette family, this kind of comprehensive approach speaks volumes.
“As Ronin’s mother, I’m fairly confident that I know him better than anyone else,” Emily says. “If I had to list who knows him best after that, Dr. Gagnon would definitely be in the conversation. I don’t think anything else I could say would tell you more than that.”
If you think your child might benefit from Complex Care Services at Gillette, don’t hesitate to contact our team at 651-578-5098.
Do these symptoms sound familiar? Our 30-minute consult appointment could help get answers.