Willis-Knighton Health System’s Children’s Health Specialists is partnering with Children’s Hospital New Orleans and Tulane University School of Medicine to offer genetics clinical services in Shreveport utilizing telemedicine. The new service enables families to interact locally with a physician and genetics counselor, minimizing the need to travel long distances.
“There may still be times where patients have to travel to receive more extensive services in person, but most will be able to receive a complete visit with pediatric genetics specialists without needing to leave our local community,” says Chris Sale, administrator at Willis-Knighton. WK clinical team members facilitate the visit in an exam room equipped with Virtual Care technology to assist the provider with the evaluation and ensure the patient has a smooth experience.
Joseph A. Bocchini, Jr., MD, of WK Children’s Health Specialists, explains that the genetic clinic offers medical guidance and support to children and their families who have or may be at risk for genetic conditions. “Based on a complete medical and family history and a physical examination of the infant or child, the physician geneticist will determine whether it is appropriate to perform diagnostic testing to confirm or rule out a genetic condition and/or make develop a treatment plan,” he says.
Some of the common reasons children are referred for a genetic consultation by their primary care physicians include presence of a birth defect, chromosomal disorder, known inherited disorder, physical findings consistent with a genetic related disorder or delayed development. Children could also be referred for an abnormal test result that suggests a genetic or chromosomal condition, or out of range newborn screening test results.
“Families may also be referred for assessing the risk of an identified genetic condition being passed on to other children,” Dr. Bocchini says. “Many of the conditions screened for at birth require genetic counseling and prompt management to prevent disabilities or death.”
“This is another way Willis-Knighton is working to enhance pediatric specialty services to patients in our region,” Sale says.
“Through this partnership, Willis-Knighton, Tulane and Children’s Hospital New Orleans will continue to collaborate on clinical pathways and care protocols to help ensure one high standard of care is delivered for children in the Greater Shreveport-Bossier area, and across the state,” says John R. Nickens, IV, president and CEO at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Our first virtual genetics clinic was an exciting step forward in our partnership.”
The partnership, which was announced in November 2019, brings pediatric medical education programs to Shreveport, and access to Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ pediatric-trained sub-specialists through virtual care platforms.