Going to the dentist can be a traumatic experience for anyone, especially for a child with complex disabilities. Add to the fear and anxiety, the physical challenges of treating a child with muscular-skeletal issues of the mouth and jaw, and the technical challenges of transporting a child in a wheelchair, and going to the dentist becomes a virtually impossible task. Indeed, until we introduced the on-site mobile dental clinic at Keren Or, some of our children had never had a dental exam.
Teaming up with the national organization, Akim, and the Elwyn dental clinic, Keren Or provides on-site dental cleanings and check-ups several times per year. The clinic is staffed by exceptionally patient and gentle, specially trained professionals who dedicate their lives to the oral health and hygiene of children with disabilities.
The Keren Or social worker coordinates all the paperwork and scheduling, and familiar, loving staff members stay with each child for the duration of their appointment, ensuring a positive experience for each child.
Beyond intense daily care, children with complex disabilities require regular appointments and ongoing follow-up with physicians and specialists of all kinds. For example, children with motor disabilities are at risk for changes in the muscular-skeletal system, and must visit an orthopedist at least 1-2 times per year. These appointments compel the parent to travel with the child to a specialist clinic that is usually located in a hospital, rather than in the local neighborhood health clinic. The child has to be taken out of their educational and rehabilitative framework for several hours, and the parent often loses a day of work. In addition, the child's personal therapeutic team cannot accompany the parent and child to the specialist clinic. This precludes a multi-disciplinary meeting and the shared thinking that is often very significant, and crucial to the therapists' ability to maintain the child's situation using conservative, non-invasive methods, rather than drug or surgical treatments.
In response to a request from Keren Or's head physical therapist, Dr. Harel Arazi and the Orthopedic Unit at Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center agreed to hold a clinic on-site at Keren Or. All the students who require appointments are seen at Keren Or, saving parents lost work hours, the anxiety of getting their child to the hospital, and saving students lost learning and therapy time. Importantly, the clinic enables the parent, the physician and Keren Or's heath care staff to meet and make joint decisions about each student's ongoing care. Recommendations are implemented, new personalized equipment ordered and fitted, and adjustments made to each child's individualized plan, as necessary.
Keren-Or's physical therapists manage the entire process of coordinating appointments, completing paperwork and gathering parental permissions while keeping the needs of students and parents paramount. The parents report that this is an enormous help that saves them many hours and much anxiety. They appreciate the interdisciplinary approach, and the seamless transition between medical and therapeutic treatment. Keren-Or's staff is gratified to go above and beyond to support our families in yet another important way!
In order to be eligible for disability services from the Ministry of Welfare, an individual is required to undergo a comprehensive professional evaluation at the Ministry's diagnostic center. The diagnostic committee determines the individual's level of functioning, and makes recommendations for treatment. The committee must be provided with current medical, educational, psycho-social and rehabilitative reports, as well as any other relevant material that might assist with the diagnosis. Once the paperwork is in order, the diagnostic center invites the individual, and his or her parents, to come to two appointments at the center, first for a preliminary evaluation, and then for a meeting with the full diagnostic committee. The evaluation must be repeated and updated every four years to see if there have been any changes and if the child/adult is entitled to new services.
Due to our students' complex physical and developmental disabilities, it is extremely difficult for their parents to take them to the Ministry of Welfare's diagnostic center. It requires the student to be taken out of school and the parent to lose a day of work. Furthermore, many of our families don't have wheelchair accessible vehicles, making transportation virtually impossible. Therefore, Keren Or's social worker initiated the "mobile diagnostic committee." In response to her request, the Ministry of Welfare now conducts both the preliminary evaluation, and the full diagnostic committee meeting on-site at Keren Or. The social worker organizes a group of 7-8 students, all of whom need their evaluations updated. She collects all the required developmental reports for each student, and streamlines the bureaucratic process for the parents. She then coordinates appointments for the students and their parents to meet with the diagnostic committee twice, both times at Keren Or.
The mobile diagnostic committee project is a huge help to parents who face endless appointments, paperwork, and layers of bureaucracy. It saves parents valuable time and emotional energy, and enables the diagnostic committee to evaluate the child in a familiar, comfortable setting. This is another example of how Keren Or's comprehensive program helps to lift stress and strain on the family.