Transplant services: transitioning to adult care
At some point in the future, our young adult patients will reach a point in which they would be best cared for at an adult medical center by providers who are best trained to care for adults who have had a transplant. This transition typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 21, at a time in which patients may be undergoing several other life transitions as well. These may include graduating high school, moving out of the family home, beginning college, or starting a new job. We want our patients to be well-prepared to manage their health care needs in these new environments, as well as to begin working effectively with adult health care providers. We also realize that transitioning to a new medical center can be a scary and emotional time for patients and their families. Thus, we have developed a program to ensure that we meet all of the educational and emotional needs of transplant families as they transition to adult health care.
The Solid Organ Transplant Program utilizes the PACT (Pediatric to Adult Care Transition) program to assist patients and families with preparing for independent management of one’s health care needs. This program was developed at CMCD and is utilized throughout the hospital, but was tailored by SOTP staff to meet the specific needs of transplant patients. Beginning between ages 14-15, your transplant team will start talking about the transition process during your regular clinic visits. They will discuss with your family issues related to adult health care, how to learn to manage your own health care needs, finding and using support resources, and what you need to know about your health to stay healthy in the future. At some point, you will meet with the following staff:
- Child Life Specialist
- Social Worker
- Physician/Nurse Practitioner
- Financial Counselor
Each year, you will be asked to focus on learning specific information and skills to take care of your health, with the help of your family. If you need additional help with this process, SOTP staff will always be available. We may also suggest additional visits to help with the transition process. Around the time of your senior year of high school (or equivalent) you will be invited to participate in a PACT group day, where we will review these skills with patients and parents (separately) and allow teens/young adults to support each other as you plan your future. For those patients with specific needs related to their independence (for example, patients with cognitive or developmental concerns), we will create a specific and appropriate transition plan with you and your family.