Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida
Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) Helps Special Needs Children
When Sophia Parker was born two years ago, her mother, Emily, quickly learned that her daughter had severe health issues. Sophia was diagnosed with Noonan syndrome, a condition that affects growth and development. In addition, Sophia had hydrocephalus (water on her brain), pulmonary valve problems and required a feeding tube.
I had no idea anything was wrong when I was pregnant, Emily says. My older daughter, Olivia, is normal. For now, Sophia sees a cardiologist once a month and will need a heart transplant in the future. She requires constant care and monitoring. Even so, Emily can go to work because she can leave Sophia with the care providers at the Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC). The special day care was established in 1996 to help parents whose children require extra care that a typical day care cannot provide.
We try to meet the specific needs of each child and their parents, says Lori Proia, RN, PPEC nursing director. Our goal is to maximize each child s skills and help the family as much as we can so they, in turn, can help their child.
The PPEC is open during the day Monday-Friday. Children attend the PPEC for as long as they require nursing care, which averages about two years. The children then typically transition to a day care, school or stay home with their family. Although the PPEC is licensed for 36 beds, there are 26 children currently enrolled. The PPEC cares for children from birth to age 21. Children who attend PPEC have a variety of diagnoses and health needs. PPEC staff work closely with each child s family and the child s physicians to formulate individual care plans.
We are able to provide that extra care a child with medical and/or technological needs may not otherwise receive in a typical day care setting, Lori says. This specialized care allows families to work, attend school and continue to care for other family members.
One of the other goals of the PPEC is to decrease rehospitalization of children with special medical needs. By communicating with families and physicians, we are able to direct parents to care that could prevent the child from needing to go to the hospital or Emergency Department, Lori says.
The program costs are covered by some insurance companies. Lori says that families who enroll in the program find more than just medical support. We really are like a family here, she says. We get to know the children, their siblings and their parents. We celebrate milestones and birthdays with the families. We try to help in any way we can.