A Day in the Life: Carilion Cleft Palate Clinic Team

Carilion Clinic’s Cleft Palate Clinic provides the ultimate team approach to care for patients and their families. In just one visit,  each patient is evaluated by providers in six different specialties.
 
It involves repairing the lip and the palate and also issues related to their hearing, their speech, their teeth and subsequent braces may be needed,” explained James T. Thompson, M.D., director of Carilion's Cleft and Craniofacial Center. “The goal is to have a complete approach where we have everything the patient needs in one place.”
 
Convenient for families like the Cunninghams, who travel from the New River Valley for their son, Zebadiah.
 
“When he was first born, he couldn’t eat correctly or anything and they just came in and really worked with us just like we were family,” said Mercedes Cunningham, Zebadiah’s mom.
 
The appropriate flag on the door is folded back as each specialist enters or leaves a patient room, acting as a road map for providers who navigate the hallway so patients can remain in one place for the visits.
 
“Cleft palate is a complicated situation and it needs multiple specialists to get to the best result,” said Amy Rockhill, D.D.S., an orthodontist for Carilion Children’s Pediatric Dentistry.
 
There is no limit on their outcome, and they can do anything because of that team care that happens all the way through,” added Benjamin Cable, M.D., a Carilion Children's pediatric E.N.T. specialist.
 
“Our mission is to be there for these families,” said Amy Kageals, a Carilion Children's pediatric speech therapist. “We have a care coordinator who really helps tie all of these pieces together.”
 
A program that provides perspective for families about a complex condition.
 
“So many different systems are involved,” explained Albert Parulis, D.M.D., a Cleft Clinic oral surgeon. “You’ve got speech function, aesthetic behavioral growth, educational growth; all of these things play a vital role in basically making sure that we treat these children optimally.”
 
“Listening to him talk with no problems and seeing him live like any other healthy child from all the services he has been offered through the program it is just really a blessing," said Mercedes Cunningham.
 
It gives me extreme confidence knowing that there is an entire team of people collaborating,” said Steven Greenway, Ryan’s dad. “They are always willing to give tips and help along the way, along the journey.”
 
As the first round of appointments come to an end, providers get together to discuss the best multidisciplinary approach to care for each patient and to share some of the special moments they have just experienced.
 
“It makes us happy because at the time we thought he isn’t going to be able to do this or do that, but he has and they have made it possible,” said Donald Cunningham, Zebadiah’s dad.
 
Seeing the positive results are why we do it,” said Dr. Thompson. “It is the reason why everybody is here. It is such a joy to take care of these kids and watch them grow up.
We all know they are going to do great.”