Doctor appointments, prescriptions, tests, ER visits, hospitalizations, followed by more doctor appointments – the cycle seems never-ending. Parents managing their child’s complex and chronic conditions can quickly become overwhelmed. To help these parents plot a course for a healthier outcome, Mercy Children’s Hospital recently introduced a navigation program called POINT, Pediatric Outpatient & Inpatient Navigation Team.
The POINT nurse navigator serves as a single point of contact for parents and initiates a coordinated plan of care involving all appropriate care providers while the child is in the hospital and at home. Effectively caring for chronically ill pediatric patients presents unique challenges. Children and adolescents require intensive resources in and out of the hospital, often for the duration of their lives. Various providers have their attention on one area of a child’s medical needs with the “big picture” at risk of being missed, possibly duplicating care due to poor coordination.
While the percentage of children with special health care needs is relatively small, this population accounts for the majority of health care expenditures. The goals of the POINT program are to reduce emergency room visits and hospital stays, shorten the stay if a child is hospitalized, improve emotional well-being and coping, keep parents engaged and overall improve the quality of life for both the patient and parent.
“We look at the big picture and coordinate a care plan,” said Moe Schmid, RN, BSN, POINT nurse navigator at Mercy Children’s Hospital. “Much of my job is education. I educate parents about the importance of having a medical home, seeing certain specialists and filling prescriptions. ”
Schmid also helps communicate on behalf of the parents, making calls for resources the parents wouldn’t otherwise know about. “I tell them we are in this journey together.”
The POINT program serves pediatric patients who suffer from a wide range of chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, cerebral palsy, genetic abnormalities, developmental delays, cancer and blood disorders and autism spectrum disorders.