Patients are treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) until age 21. On turning 21, they are transitioned to an adult health care provider. UAMS works with ACH to ensure that transition to adult health care is a smooth and organized process.
One way we work toward that goal is by having the social worker from the Adult Sickle Cell Clinical Program work in the ACH sickle cell clinic, meeting each patient that is nearing transition. During those encounters with each patient at ACH, the social worker assesses the level of disease-specific education needed. It is important that patients entering adulthood are knowledgeable about their disease and how to be their own advocates.
The UAMS social worker and the pediatric team have implemented an educational program specifically to help patients prepare for the transition. The program makes certain every patient receives an education on all aspects of their disease. There also have been web-based patient education modules developed by the UAMS Sickle Cell team for this purpose. The social worker assists patients with establishing an adult primary care provider in their community, as well as making their initial appointment at UAMS Sickle Cell Clinic.
Another way we work toward the goal of a smooth transition from pediatric to adult care is conducting a biannual transition meeting in which the UAMS social worker, clinic nurse, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and co-director Megan Davis, M.D., meet with the pediatric sickle cell team at ACH to review patients who will make the transition to UAMS within the next six months. The meetings help establish the continuity of care for patients during that time.