New Program Helps Kids with Chronic Illnesses

July 24, 2019

Whether it's a chronically ill child in Missouri or an intensive care patient in Africa, Mercy is using technology to broaden health care access.

"All parents are concerned when their child is sick," said Dr. Alison Curfman,  Mercy's medical director of Pediatric Virtual Care. "Now, imagine your child has multiple health concerns and medical equipment to manage and gets sick. Our new vKids program catches many issues that lead to hospitalization before the child gets sick enough to need emergency care."

Chronically ill patients are often in and out of the hospital as their various health issues flair up. vKids, similar to Mercy's vEngagement program, uses technology to better manage children struggling with multiple complex medical conditions.

St. Louis' KMOV featured the new vKids program as well as Mercy's vICU program, used in Yendi, Ghana, both of which are extending care through technology.

The program isn't intended to replace in-person care. The vKids team is made up of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers who stay connected to the child's primary care physicians and specialists so they all work together.

Parents provide their child's vitals electronically to vKids daily and have regularly scheduled virtual appointments. If they have any concerns, they can reach the team with a touch of a button. 

"We can often see things through a video visit that might be missed during an office visit," Dr. Curfman explained. "We see the equipment in the home environment and can correct any issues that might arise, such as a tube not connecting or not having enough supplies."

When emergency care is warranted, vKids gives the family directions and alerts the hospital the patient is on the way. In many cases, the child is admitted directly versus waiting in the ER.

In addition to caring for the child, the program also offers a family component.

"We're not only caring for the child but the whole family," Dr. Curfman added. "Parents struggle when their child is sick and our team can help connect them to helpful resources."

Requirements for the program include:

  • Multiple Chronic Illnesses
  • Rely on Medical Equipment
  • Frequent ER Visits
Mercy Virtual: vKids

Learn more about vKids

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