The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded MUSC a $1.92 million grant to initiate a primary care track in the pediatric residency program. The Georgetown Pediatric Center was named as one of the two community training sites in South Carolina.
Georgetown Pediatric Center has been affiliated with the Division of General Pediatrics at MUSC since 1999. Paul Hletko, M.D., serves as the center director and is an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at MUSC. Hletko is the founder of Georgetown Pediatric Center and has provided pediatric health services in Georgetown for more than 22 years.
Members of the MUSC pediatric faculty visit the center on a weekly basis, and see a wide range of complex problems while assisting in providing Georgetown children with a full-service medical home. This July, pediatric resident physicians will rotate through Georgetown as part of their formal training, working with Hletko and his staff in providing care for patients from birth through their teenage years.
"This close alliance to MUSC provides an exceptional standard of care to our Georgetown families, and our patients enjoy the attention and care of MUSC faculty physicians," Hletko said. "We are proud to be part of this innovative program for our area and ultimately hope to influence some young pediatricians to practice in underserved rural communities."
William Basco, M.D., MUSC division director for general pediatrics, agrees. "There are many studies demonstrating that physicians-in-training who spend part of their training in rural areas are much more likely to eventually practice there, so this new residency program track helps train pediatricians in areas of need where we want them to later practice."
The grant also includes funds to establish an on-site telemedicine program. Hletko said the technology will aid both the education of the residents and patient care. "The residents, staff and guests of our office will be able to attend any and all daily and weekly MUSC academic pediatric conferences being held in Charleston, in real time. Patients who require a consultation may soon be able to receive that service with the pediatrician via our video equipment."
For example, a consulting physician would be able to conduct a visual exam of a patient and review lab or X-ray results in real time without requiring the family to travel to Charleston. As part of the telemedicine approach, the center will offer follow-up visits for behavioral or school-related problems.
Helping Georgetown's sickle cell patients transition from pediatric to adult
The American Academy of Pediatrics awarded a 2012 CATCH (Community Access to Child Health) grant to Paul Hletko, M.D., and Sarah Mennito, M.D., director of the combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency Program.
The grant funds a project that will plan for the smooth transition of adolescents with sickle cell anemia to adult medical providers who are familiar with the complex multi-system health problems experienced by these patients.
Hletko has worked with sickle cell anemia patients throughout his career. "When I started working in pediatric hematology at Cook County Children's Hospital, we did not have many of the life saving routines which are commonly in use today. Because life expectancy was only into young adulthood in the early 70s, we did not necessarily plan for a transition of care to an adult medical home." With Mennito's help in developing new processes for the transition from pediatric to adult care, Hletko looks forward to working with various individuals to further define transition planning for all special needs children, including those with sickle cell anemia.
The planning committee will also examine the needs of sickle cell anemia patients in the areas of education, insurance, income, living independence, transportation, spirituality and mental health.