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Children’s Medical Services: Orthopedic Clinic

April 16, 2024

CMS Orthopedic Clinic made possible with community partners dedicated to children needing specialized care

Robert Bruce, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, travels once a month to provide care at an Orthopedic Clinic offered through our District 4 CMS program. It is held alternately at Children’s Healthcare at Fayette and at Emory at LaGrange Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

This clinic is one-stop-shop for CMS clients with mobility issues. Some clients are also in the Babies Can’t Wait (BCW) program, and some are referred by pediatricians and others in the community for scoliosis evaluations, gait concerns, and equipment or bracing needs.

Besides the doctor and the CMS Team, the Orthopedic Clinic also has a physical therapist, Deborah Hopper, for evaluations; certified orthotists for braces; complex rehab technology suppliers (CRTS) who order durable medical equipment and tailor adaptive devices to individual needs; and a specialist from DPH Child Occupant Safety program to assist with special car seats. The CMS clinic not only has bilingual staff, but we also have language interpreters and others as needed to serve each child’s individual needs.

“We also have had BCW service coordinators come when their clients come, and we’ve had several school physical therapists come to give their input on students’ DME [durable medical equipment] and other needs,” said Wendy Wilson, District 4’s CMS coordinator.

A contracted physical therapist—who also works in Upson and Pike schools—does home visits around the district as needed, assisting with equipment evaluations and adjustments and teaching caregivers how to use equipment.

“She stores equipment and will fix up donated items to loan out or give to our clients,” Wilson said. “She and the community PTs who work with BCW trade equipment back and forth. Then, through Parent to Parent, we also have our own parent partner, Ashley Thomas, who works closely with our staff to provide information and support to families.”

Most of the children come to the monthly clinic to help address medical conditions and concerns related to spina bifida, cerebral palsy and scoliosis, as well as other medical conditions that can be somewhat stabilized. There are other conditions—such as muscular dystrophy and some genetic disorders—that are progressive and require different assistance to make arrangements for the future.

CMS focuses on clients’ current medical needs with surgery or other procedures, therapies, medications, braces and equipment so they can get where they need to go.

“For example, school staff members have referred children who were unable to attend school because they had no wheelchair,” Wilson said.  “With our PT, our loaner stock, our DME providers, and other community partners, we have been able to put children in loaner chairs quickly so that they can ride the bus to school while their own chair is being ordered. This allows them to keep progressing with their educational and social skills until their own items arrive.”

CMS care coordinators not only value giving children the means to attend school, but also keeping people with disabilities involved with their family activities and community events.

“One of our favorite items to provide, as our budget allows, are back-up, lightweight special-needs strollers so families can attend siblings’ soccer games, church services, local fairs, and even go on vacations,” Wilson said. “Most families cannot afford a vehicle to accommodate a heavy wheelchair, and we do not want our clients left at home.”

CMS also focuses on the future—especially as clients get older, Wilson said. CMS care coordinators discuss transitioning to adult doctors and programs. CMS will help caregivers determine whether a client will be independent or need ongoing assistance.  CMS will try to help families plan for these changes—to help a client reach their potential—and/or to help a family keep a client safe and comfortable.

If you or someone you know could potentially be served by District 4’s CMS program, or its other services for children with special needs, contact Jessica Saldana at Jessica.saldana@dph.ga.gov or (706) 298-7723.

ABOUT CHILDREN”S MEDICAL SERVICES:

The Children’s Medical Services (CMS) program of District 4 Public Health supports families of children ages 0 to 21 with certain chronic medical conditions.

“We try every day to make the families served through CMS feel a true sense that we’re always there to help them navigate a world that is very different from what most families face day to day,” said Wendy Wilson, District 4’s CMS coordinator.

CMS care coordinators work with public and private area health care providers and community partners to provide families they serve with access to affordable health care services and needed resources.

“‘Coordinating’ is a great way to describe what we do,” Wilson said. “We partner with our parents and let them take the lead on what they want for their child. We collaborate with the medical team, school staff, agencies and companies in our area to provide families with options to meet the needs that they identify.  We try to help them overcome barriers to services, try to connect them to resources, and offer information and advice for planning for the future. While some families need us to hold their hand through situations, other parents just need us to point them a certain direction.”

“Our area of the state has some wonderfully committed individuals, agencies, medical providers and local pharmacies who work with us as community partners, and we’ve then able to coordinate with them to help us provide our families with the care and resources they need.”

For information on CMS and eligibility guidelines, visit the state’s CMS website. For information on District 4’s CMS program, contact Jessica Saldana at jessica.saldana@dph.ga.gov or (706) 298-7723.