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PATCH program rolled out at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in 2018 to work with parents and help children

OMAHA, Nebraska — At only six months old, Dexter was brought to the hospital.

“He was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis,” Wendy Andersen, Dexter’s mom, said.

Then, at age five, he was identified as autistic. After multiple doctor’s appointments and hospital visits, Dexter developed a fear of hospitals.

“We would drive by Children’s and he would, in his car seat, he would say ‘no, no, no, no, no,’ just driving by,” Wendy said.

In 2018, when Dexter was nine years old, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center launched the PATCH program. It creates an individualized care plan for the child.

“By partnering with parents, we learn about that child’s unique perspective and experience,” Dr. Pat Sullivan, program coordinator for PATCH, said.

hey accomplish this by having parents fill out a form with five distinct sections.

  • How the child communicates and how staff should communicate with them.
  • Any safety concerns medical staff should know about.
  • Any anxieties or triggers.
  • What can or should be used to calm them down.
  • How they typically handle medical procedures.

“We put on there all of his likes, he like angry birds, he likes trains, he does not like to be man-handled, just everything that we could possibly think of,” Wendy said.

And with this information on file, medical personnel are better prepared.

“Here’s the information, you take that into consideration when you are figuring out how you are going to deliver care or interact with the child,” said Rob Harding, adaptive care specialist, for the PATCH program.

For Wendy, having this program gives her son a voice.

“It helps Dexter to have a voice in situations where he doesn’t have a voice or he can’t explain what’s going on, so there is really this level of respect,” Wendy said.

And as a result of the training, Dexter stated, “I have no fear of doctors.”

Even if you are not a patient at Children’s, the hospital offers parents with a similar form to complete and bring to other appointments, such as the dentist. ChildrensOmaha.org/PATCH has additional information about the initiative.

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