The Lee Specialty Clinic: Specialized Healthcare for Individuals with Disability
Friday, January 23rd, 2015
As parents of individuals with special needs, we all want our children to have fulfilling, rewarding, and inclusive lives. We want them to experience the same things that everyone else experiences, to have access to the same opportunities, resources, and supports necessary to help them realize their dreams. It is this desire for inclusivity – the idea that everyone is equal, and should be treated as such – that many organizations that serve individuals with special needs build their services around. Here at M&L we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment and all of our services are designed with one goal: to help you help your child with special needs achieve all of his or her dreams, live as independently as possible, and be as integrated into the community as he or she desires.
There are times, however, when this desire for inclusivity is overshadowed by the need for specialized services. Raising a child with special needs comes with its own set of unique challenges, which not everyone understands or is equipped to deal with. For example, dental care: a simple cavity for some individuals may turn into an ordeal for someone who is sensitive to noise and/or light. And, if the medical professional is not familiar with working with individuals with special needs, this additional challenge may very well be beyond his or her capabilities.
The New York Times focused on this challenge – finding adequate medical care for adults with disabilities – in a recent article they published online, titled An Oasis of Care for People With Intellectual Disabilities. A quote from this piece examines the difficulty parents have with finding medical professionals that will look past the outward signs of disability to search for the root cause of behaviors:
“On a more granular level, Dr. Hood and Dr. Holder knew that most doctors are never exposed to patients with intellectual disability, and that government health care benefits for these patients are often reduced after they become adults. The doctors were also aware of a tendency toward “diagnostic overshadowing”; that is, attributing a behavior — repeatedly slapping oneself on the side of the head, for example — to intellectual disability, rather than searching for a root cause. For years, parents like Ms. Kramer have struggled to find compassionate health care for their adult children with profound disability, among the most medically underserved populations in the country. They are told their children are not welcome: too disruptive in the waiting room, too long in the examining room — beyond the abilities of doctors who have no experience with intellectual disability.”
The Lee Specialty Clinic, a medical facility recently opened in Louisville, Kentucky, was created as a solution to this problem. As was quoted in the article, this clinic is “one of the very few free-standing facilities designed exclusively to provide medical and dental treatment – and a sense of welcome – to people with intellectual disability.” In addition to the specialized patient care, the clinic also offers interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities – the only clinic in the country to do so while offering services solely to individuals with ID/DD.
Lee Specialty Clinic opened its doors in June of 2014, and currently serves 500 patients. This number is expected to grow. One of these patients, Trey Kramer, is the face behind the NYT article. His mother Mimi’s struggle with finding medical care for Trey symbolizes the medically underserved population of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in the US. To prove this point, author Dan Barron points out that, “the deficiencies in health care for people with intellectual disability have been cited by the surgeon general, the American Medical Association, and the American Dental Association, among others.”
The clinic, a place “where compassion lives”, directly addresses these deficiencies. As well as their teaching and research opportunities, the clinic offers a wide range of medical services to their patients. These services include primary care medicine, general dentistry, psychiatry, clinical psychology, behavior analysis, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and crisis intervention. Patients can receive speech and language therapy, pharmacological and nutritional counseling, and can access diagnostic and laboratory services. As well, patients and families can also meet with several specialists at once to develop a health care plan – a revolutionary approach to holistic, person-centered healthcare.
After reading this article, watching the video, and researching Lee’s website we are in love with this clinic and we sincerely hope that more medical professionals from across the country jump on board with providing specialized care solely for individuals with disability. If you would like more info about the Lee Specialty Clinic, please visit their website. The article and video referenced in this blog can be viewed here.
M&L’s Specialized Financial and Life Planning Services
Here at M&L, we are not only professionals in the special needs community – we are also parents of children with disability. We have experienced the ups and downs of the special needs journey from both sides – as such, we have a unique perspective. For example, our Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan was created specifically with the special needs journey in mind. As financial professionals in the field of special needs, as well as parents of a child with special needs, we recognized that families need to plan and save for two generations – the typical milestones such as retirement, college education savings, etc. are accounted for as well as the lifetime costs of the individual with special needs. In fact, all of our services have been created solely to help families with special needs save for the future, meet their goals, and reach their dreams. If you would like a specialized service related to special needs financial planning, i.e. government benefit counseling, insurance needs analysis planning, or housing information, then let us know! We would love to help. You may also wish to browse our Services webpage, where were discuss these services in detail.
Thank you all so much for joining us today – we hope that you were as inspired and moved by the work that happens at Lee Specialty Clinic as we were. If you have any questions or would like some general information about a special needs planning issue that affects your life, then give us a call! We love hearing from you. Until next time!
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