A single visit to Carilion Clinic’s Cleft Palate Clinic includes evaluation by providers in six different specialties. That team approach is not only valuable for patients and families trying to navigate highly complex conditions, it makes ongoing treatment much easier for families like Zebediah Cunningham's, who travel from other cities for their care.
“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.”
Dr. Thompson's team has been recognized with a "Team Approval" designation by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPT).
Children with clefts may have multiple problems that require different specialists. Carilion’s Cleft and Craniofacial team carefully coordinates procedures for each child to maximize the desired outcome and limit the number of operations needed. This approach not only provides optimal care for children, but it also addresses family, social, emotional, psychological and educational needs.
“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.”
“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.”
“It gives me extreme confidence knowing that there is an entire team of people collaborating,” said Steven Greenway, whose son Ryan is a patient at the Clinic. “They are always willing to give tips and help along the way, along the journey.”
“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.”