Over the last thirty years I have worked in a large variety of health care institutions: big urban hospitals, small rural hospitals, a variety of psychiatric hospitals, free standing and hospital based holistic centers, residential treatment centers for children and teenagers, retreat centers as well as a variety of medical clinics. During this time I have paid careful attention to how these settings meet the needs of patients or fail them.
As I sit with parents and children reviewing their history, I hear many similar themes over and over again: children with chronic illness are not getting their needs met. Parents are enormously frustrated with the health care system. Care is extremely fragmented. Our current system is geared to inpatient hospital care for crisis intervention. Most of the care needed for a child with a chronic illness lies not in a hospital care but falls to separate outpatient visits. The specialists involved in the childís care are spread all over and typically have no direct communication about the complex needs of the child.††††††
Obviously, each specialist examines a quite narrow aspect of the child and offers narrow and often technical interventions. Communication and support for parents are limited and the attention to the childís educational, social and emotional stressors are so limited that parents feel extremely overwhelmed and confused.
Currently, the entire health care system is designed to meet the acute care needs of adults. In almost every aspect it is exactly the wrong system for children with chronic illness. I knew there had to be a better way. One day about seven years ago I had a vision for a solution to this dilemma. It would place all of the services and practitioners for the child with chronic illness in one non-hospital setting. Parents and families would finally get their due. Specialists would come to the child and sort out each childís complex needs. The social and educational aspect of the child would be supported. Parents would be given the communication and skills needed to become empowered. Children would leverage the power of mind-body approaches and proper nutrition that modern medicine so often dismisses. Best of all this treatment would be compressed in time so that the hardship of travel and intermittent appointments was minimized.
This is The Center for the Whole Child: a residential treatment center for children with all chronic illnesses: medical, neurological, developmental, psychiatric, orthopedic, etc. The child comes with his or her family to this setting for two weeks to be assessed supported and educated in the basic skills needed to manage the illness successfully. This will significantly reduce the stresses that so impact every member of the family.
In many respects this program combines the best features of hospital care (intensive attention and care), residential care, (cost-effective delivery and longer treatment stays), retreats (depth and breadth of services, more homelike setting), conventional health care (credible qualified practitioners) and holistic services (sensitive and individualized treatment). The child and family can find the help they so desperately need in one location.I have decided to devote myself to making this vision a reality. Starting in August of 2007 I will be sharing the details of this vision while raising the funds needed to make The Center for the Whole Child a reality. Please see the Centerís website for more information www.ForTheWholeChild.org.