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    National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month

    National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month

    Photo By Christina Johnson | National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month Established by AmeriFace...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers 

    Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth

    July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month. Craniofacial anomalies are a diverse group of deformities in the growth of the head and facial bones. These abnormalities are present at birth.

    Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is one of two military treatment facilities within the Department of Defense with a certified Pediatric Craniofacial Program.

    “What this means is that Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are the only two facilities that perform craniofacial surgeries,” said. Air Force Col. Kerry Latham, a craniofacial plastic surgeon. “Other facilities can only correct cleft lip and cleft palate, which these two facilities do as well.”

    One day each month, patients meet with a team of specialized doctors and providers. This team visit day allows all providers to interact with patients, parents and each other in real time and come up with an individualized treatment plan for the patients for up to a year. The team consists of approximately 10 providers and NMCP treats about 150 pediatric patients annually. Anomalies range from cleft lip and cleft palate to hemifacial microsomia, which are genetic conditions.

    “This team is unique,” Latham said. “Not only do we treat pediatric patients, but occasionally we meet with adults who maybe didn’t have access to healthcare or meet their goal as a child so we can help them meet those goals now.”

    Since the certification for the Pediatric Craniofacial Program, NMCP staff have gone another step further to meet patient needs.

    NMCP has a Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI) Clinic, which allows those pediatric patients to receive a more in-depth evaluation. VPI occurs when the soft palate, or the roof of the mouth, fails to close off the air flow through the nose during speech. Right now, NMCP is the only military medical facility with this clinic.

    During the team visit day, providers identify children who need further evaluation and they are referred to the VPI Clinic. During the evaluation process, the patient works with two providers – an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor and a speech pathologist. While the patient is reciting words and sounds, the providers monitor what the palate is doing, then determine if additional speech therapy or surgery is needed.

    “This is a very streamlined approach to treatment, this is multidisciplinary care, seeing two providers during one visit,” said Cmdr. Thomas Gallagher, a pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT) at NMCP. “Our patients’ parents get both specialists at one time. This helps with clarity and unity with a plan.”

    There is a multitude of resources, educational programs and support programs for children and their families through city and county resources, schools, and associations such as the American Cleft Palate Association.

    “Taking care of the kids of our Sailors and Marines helps those service members do their job better knowing that their kids are taken care of,” Latham said. “It is my greatest honor and privilege to care for these families and their children to give them peace of mind.”

    As the U. S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830,
    Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military
    members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state-of-the-art
    medical center, including its nine branch clinics located throughout the
    Hampton Roads area, additionally offers premier research and teaching
    programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.



    Date Taken: 07.19.2018
    Date Posted: 07.19.2018 13:43
    Story ID: 284933
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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