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John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital tackles complex care needs

Children with unique healthcare needs are an especially vulnerable population, requiring early interventions and advanced services to ensure improved health outcomes throughout life. In 2016, John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital established Oishei Healthy Kids, a Medicaid Health Home serving children. It provides care management services to Western New York children who have complex physical and/or behavioral health conditions.

It is a challenge for families and caregivers to coordinate care with numerous providers when children have complex needs and require multiple services. Oishei Healthy Kids care managers promote communication among all of a child’s caregivers, addressing the full spectrum of needs, including medical, mental and social health. Care managers work to educate and empower the child and family/caregiver to self-manage wellness needs moving forward. The goals of this comprehensive, integrated care planning process are improved quality of care, better health outcomes, reduced emergency room utilization and elimination of duplicate or unnecessary services.

Oishei Healthy Kids aligns with the New York state Prevention Agenda priority area, “Promote Healthy Women, Infants, and Children” and the focus area, “Child and Adolescent Health,” with the goal to support and enhance children and adolescent social-emotional development and relationships. Staff are trained to identify and address social-emotional development in children. This includes adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect, mental illness and addiction, family separation and other traumatic experiences in a child’s life. It is important to incorporate diversity in staff hiring and partnerships, including varied occupations, education, expertise and cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Oishei Healthy Kids had 860 enrollees at the end of 2017 and 1,267 in 2018. Today, there are 1,445 Medicaid children receiving services. In 2019, 57 Oishei Healthy Kids members were assessed at enrollment to be “high acuity” through the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths evaluation. After six months of health home intervention, their assessment improved to medium and/or low acuity. In 2019, Oishei Healthy Kids outreach and enrollment staff participated in 77 community events reaching an estimated 2,420 individuals and resulting in 613 Oishei Healthy Kids referrals.

For more information, contact Vicki Landes, senior director, pediatric public health and integrated care, Oishei Healthy Kids, at vlandes@kaleidahealth.org or (716) 370-1010.