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Program Helps Kids with Special Needs

A medical practice in our region offers a new program for parents of special needs children.
When  parents have a child with special needs, they want to get the best medical treatments and other forms of help available.  But it can be hard for a mom or dad giving 24 hour care to find and bring all of these services to their child.  That's why one medical practice in our region creates a medical home for their patients.
Michael Etters will be five in July.  His small intestines don't work normally so he has to be tube fed a special formula slowly over night.  He  takes medication the same way.  It's hampered  his development.
His mother Christy says, "he had a really rough start at life,  so at four months old he was still pretty much like an infant,  so we went through the whole early intervention program."

She says she learned largely  from other parents where to turn for physical, speech and other therapies and services.
In her words, "it's kind of you want to pull your hair out,  especially on the medical side of stuff.  You have to fill out paperwork or medical assistance how they maybe  don't answer your questions very well."

Now Christy works with the Pediatrics Department at  Mount Nittany Medical Center's physician groups. She's helping parent's develop a plan of care to navigate the  issues she struggled through.

Gwynne Decker, R.N., B.S.N. is the Medical Home Patient Coordinator.  She says, "typically when you put a call in to a doctor's office, you're planning yor child's story over and over again to each nurse that you come in contact with.  Having a medical home representative nurse that you call,  she already knjows your story."

Families in the medical home program usually deal with the same receptionist, nurse,  and doctor, throughout their care.
Decker says, "what our goal is, is to help the parents identify what community resources they need, to help their children strive  and be the best they can be."

Christy says figuring that out made  a huge difference for her family.   "He started off needing everything," she says,  "and as he gets older and stronger and healthier,  he's crossing them all off the list."
The Mount Nittany Physician Group is working with the Pennsylvania Medical Home Initiative.  It's  an approach to health care that emphasizes the partnership between pediatric offices  and families to help children with  special health care needs 
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