Syracuse hospital speeds up care for autistic kids who used to have to wait 2 years | #specialneeds | #kids


Syracuse, N.Y. — A new clinic at Upstate University Hospital is speeding up care for kids with autism and other disabilities who used to wait up to two years for appointments.

The Golisano Center for Special Needs, located in the Madison Irving Medical Center at 475 Irving Ave., has hired more doctors, psychologists, nurses and other specialists to reduce wait times. It has a staff of 54 people.

At the end of March, the center’s wait time was about 2 months. Henry Roane, the center’s executive director, said he wants to cut that down to 30 days. Families should not face long waits and struggle to coordinate care for their children, he said.

“Families already have to struggle enough to deal with having a child with disabilities,” Roane said.

Upstate received a $3 million gift in 2019 from billionaire philanthropist Tom Golisano to help pay for the new center. Golisano, the founder of Paychex, a payroll services company, previously donated $6 million to help Upstate build its children’s hospital which also bears his name. The new outpatient center is considered part of the children’s hospital.

Construction of the center was completed in February, but it’s not fully operational yet because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are about halfway open,” Roane said. About half of patient visits are being handled through telemedicine.

For many years there were not enough providers to care for the region’s special needs children and services were fragmented, Roane said. The new center coordinates care across many disciplines.

A child with autism or cerebral palsy needs help from pediatricians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and other specialists. “From a family’s perspective having the least amount of fragmentation possible to get that care is really what needs to be the guiding principal and that hasn’t existed in Central New York before,” Roane said.

The center also will train therapists who work with children with autism and conduct research.

The center is modeled after much larger multidisciplinary programs at Johns Hopkins and Emory University, according to Roane.

“I am real excited for the community to have this quality of care for these children who desperately need it,” Roane said.

To make appointments at the Golisano Special Needs Center, call (315) 464-HOPE.



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