Hospital for children with special needs opens in EHT

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The first Atlantic County location for Children’s Specialized Hospital, the new location in Risley Commons will be used for outpatient services for special needs patients.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Parents of special needs children often go to extremes to find the specialized care their children need in order to meet the milestones that come more easily for their typically-developing peers.

 One such family is the Albani family of Hamilton Township. Theresa and Peter Albani are parents to five children, ranging from 15 to 9 years old. Their son Peter, 13, was born autism and their other son Vincent has developmental issues that have affected his reading ability, Theresa said. Both are patients at the newly opened Children’s Specialized Hospital here now, but for years they had to travel for the services they needed.

 

 Initially, after they noticed a difference in Peter at 18 months old when he suddenly “stopped babbling,” the Albanis took him to a local facility for evaluation and early intervention. “He’s been in the system for special needs since he was three years old,” Theresa said, noting that when she and her husband wanted to search for other alternatives to his initial diagnosis, they opened their search area wider and ended up with a physician in Manhattan.

 “We would go up there every three months at first and then every six months or whenever an issue arose. There were also a lot of telephone conferences. Most of these services were not covered by insurance either,” she said. Then, after nine years of travelling to New York City, their physician recommended the family try Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Toms River location.

 “We were hesitant to go to someone new, but after that drive, kids are just shot before they even start therapy,” she said. “But, once we met Dr. Janvier, we all fell in love with her. She’s so compassionate and patient and willing to take Peter to the next level as he enters his preteen years.”

 Dr. Yvette Janvier, initially located in Toms River, is now the developmental pediatrician on staff at a new Egg Harbor Township location, where she is known by the staff to implement a “family-centric” approach to the services.

 The first Atlantic County outpatient facility for the company, the center marked its grand opening with a carnival on Saturday, Sept. 22, sponsored by one of its partners, Kohl’s Cares, the charity arm of Kohl’s department stores.

 Many of the patients the staff will see on a weekly basis at the Risley Commons Shopping Center location have been travelling to the hospital system’s other more northern locations.

 Patricia Foley, associate vice president of outpatient services, said when some patients come in they often do not have a diagnosis. “We come up with goals based on what they parents want the child to work on. For instance, if they want the child to be able to get dressed faster in the morning before school, we focus on developing the skills that support that task. We ask what will make the child focus better in their world and as part of their family.”

 Foley said the center will see approximately 150 patients a week in its Black Horse Pike location. The center features a therapy room that looks more like a playground, two “breakout rooms” and offices for physician appointments.

 According to Denise Hook, an occupational therapist at the location, families have a choice of where to take their children, but Children’s Specialized Hospital 8-member staff offers a unique skill set.

 “We are all experienced pediatric therapists,” she said. “We’ve all committed our careers to this.”

 The center also offers proximity to major roadways and public transportation as well as after-school and evening hours. Having a facility in Atlantic County also allows the staff to offer a “continuum of care” between schools, pediatricians and other clinical therapists that the family may employ.

 The hospital is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network and was named 2012 Hospital of the Year by NJBIZ. The main in-patient hospital is located in New Brunswick, and outside of the new Egg Harbor Township location, all of the hospital systems’ other outpatient and medical day care sites are located in the northern end of the state.

 Theresa Albani said the new location which is much closer to home allows her family to meet the interests of all of their children better. “For families with special needs children, so much of the focus is on that child. We’ve had to say, ‘you can’t do this activity today because of we have therapy.’ But now, with the new location, it’s a huge improvement. I can get my daughter to field hockey practice and get the boys to therapy. The migration of the hospital to the new site is a migration of happiness for us. It’s now in our own backyard.”

 As the nation’s largest pediatric rehabilitation system, the Children’s Specialized Hospital network served more than 19,000 children with special needs, including children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays and life-changing illnesses, according to a company news release.

 It partners with Kohl’s Cares Program as well as with AtlantiCare to offer additional outreach efforts.

 

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Children are entertained by a magician during the Saturday, Sept. 22 Kohl’s Cares Carnival, which marked the official grand opening of Children’s Specialized Hospital in Egg Harbor Township.

David Reaves, 11, of Egg Harbor Township takes a turn on the super-sized basketball game that was part of Saturday’s Kohl’s Cares Carnival, which marked the official grand opening of Children’s Specialized Hospital in Egg Harbor Township.

 


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