Jennifer Kamps joins her son, Quentin, who was one of the first children to be referred to the CarePartners program, for his "tummy time" exercises. Courtesy Chris Clark/Spectrum Health
An opening ceremony was held last week for the new Peter and Joan Secchia CarePartners program at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital.
The new program seeks to make life easier for young patients with complex medical needs and their families by bundling appointments and providing a program coordinator to assist them in navigating their care plan.
The program was launched one year ago, and last week marked the opening of its new home at 35 Michigan St. NE across from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Designed as a lounge for families to rest between appointments or testing, the location provides a conference room for care conferences, private spaces to allow for napping or quiet time, and lockers to secure belongings during appointments.
The lounge will be open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and by appointment.
Children seeing three or more pediatric specialists at or affiliated with DeVos Children’s Hospital can be referred to the program. Once referred, a CarePartners program coordinator will screen a child’s needs and coordinate appointments for the family.
The appointments will be scheduled in a compressed timeframe so families can see several specialists in an efficient manner, reducing travel time and missed days at school or work. The program coordinator also will explain medical jargon and diagnostic information and help patients and families throughout the course of treatment.
“This level of care coordination is something we have wanted to offer at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for quite some time,” Bob Connors, M.D., president of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said previously. “Peter and Joan have made this dream a reality, and their vision and generosity will make a difference for so many patients and families for years to come.”
Spectrum Health said 11-month-old Quentin Kamps is one of the first children to be referred to the CarePartners program.
Quentin was born at 25-weeks gestation and was very sick. Spectrum said he fell into the category of “micro-preemie” and was cared for in the Small Baby Unit at DeVos Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
He suffered from an infectious pocket in his brain along with E. coli sepsis and meningitis during his first two months. He also has hip dysplasia and chronic lung disease from being born so prematurely.
Quentin already has undergone 10 surgeries and has ongoing appointments with eight hospital teams: neurosurgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, developmental clinic and pediatric surgery — all of which require weekly appointments.
His father, Nick Kamps, said being a part of the CarePartners program has made life easier for he and his wife, who previously spent several hours a week scheduling and attending appointments for their son.
“CarePartners has been able to cut the time we spend at the hospital, and on the phone arranging trips to the hospital, in half,” Nick Kamps said.
“It’s great to know we have someone fighting for Quentin, someone as our ally who is working to make things as simple as possible for our family.”
Peter and Joan Secchia became involved with the CarePartners program after a grandchild faced a host of appointments related to a complex medical issue.
“Because of a similar situation with our granddaughter, we realize how difficult it can be for families to face a complex health situation with a young child and then have to manage multiple appointments," said Peter Secchia. "We had to line up several appointments within a day or two for our daughter and granddaughter.
“Joan and I understand the need for a program like this and wanted to make sure all families coming to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital have this support while going through such a difficult time."
“We wanted to ensure the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital experience would provide special care to other families during stressful times,” added Joan Secchia.
Michelle Lancaster, R.N., has been hired as CarePartners’ first coordinator.
Lancaster’s job is to provide guidance and support to patient families and help them understand medical information and treatment plans.
Lancaster will coordinate referrals, medical appointments, procedures and tests with the goal of reducing trips to the hospital. She also will provide families with referrals to support services such as social work, pastoral care, financial counseling and other community resources.