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Medical Home concept focuses total health care for special needs patients

By: Courtney Klemm

"DECATUR - When Tina Carter's 5-year-old son Ryan awakens in the night with a high fever, she rarely hesitates to call his primary physician, regardless of the time.

Carter of Boody has more to worry about than the average mother.

Ryan was born with epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. The muscles of all four limbs are affected by stiffness, as often are the muscles controlling his mouth and tongue, and several other health conditions resulting from birth complications.

"I never know if he's running a fever because his brain is acting up or if he's really sick, or what else it could be," Carter said.

Fortunately, Ryan and his family have formed a strong relationship with his physician, Dr. Samir Patel of Decatur, which puts Patel at the center of every aspect of Ryan's care.

Patel is one of many doctors who has adopted the growing concept of Medical Home. Under the concept, the physician coordinates all of the child's care and works with other specialists and the child's school to create a health plan.

The concept of Medical Home was established in 1967 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Dr. Charles Onufer, director of the Division of Specialized Care for Children in Springfield, an agency under the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recently, the Maternal Child Health Bureau joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics and prompted every state to look at how to promote Medical Home."

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