Hospitals join forces in child development

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A program that assesses childhood developmental disorders moves from Sick Kids to Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre.

Bloorview MacMillan and the Hospital for Sick Children are pooling their expertise in treating children with developmental disabilities by transferring Sick Kids’ Child Development Centre to Bloorview MacMillan.

The new integrated program – called the Child Development Program – will assess “the most complex and challenging children with developmental disabilities, including autism and learning disorders,” says Dr. Golda Milo-Manson, chief of medical staff at Bloorview MacMillan. It will provide one access point for children requiring assessment, with the goal of seeing more children sooner.

The move grew out of a health ministry directive that Toronto teaching hospitals work together to improve efficiency and care.

“We have the capacity in terms of developmental pediatricians and given the leadership role we’ve played in research, clinical work and education, and our new building, it made sense to bring everyone together here,” Dr. Milo-Manson says. Bloorview MacMillan, the largest children’s rehabilitation hospital in Canada, is bringing all of its operations under one roof this December with the opening of a new $100-million facility in Toronto.

Depending on the needs of children, they will be assessed in the new child development program by a developmental pediatrician or a multidisciplinary team that includes psychology and speech-language pathology.

The program will then work with schools, treatment centres and other service organizations to help families access services in the community when possible.”At this point we haven’t received any additional funding but we’re hoping to advocate for increased resources,” Dr. Milo-Manson says.

In partnership with Sick Kids, Bloorview MacMillan trains pediatricians to work with children with developmental disabilities in the largest fellowship program of its kind in Canada. “Caring for children with developmental needs is a very specialized area and there’s an extreme shortage of trained physicians in Canada,” Dr. Milo-Manson says.

The field got a boost with the creation of a division of developmental pediatrics at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine last month. With the consolidated child development program at Bloorview MacMillan, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital and Sick Kids have a great opportunity to expand research into developmental disorders.