SIUMedicine in Springfield has opened what may be the first primary care clinic in Illinois to serve foster children on an ongoing basis.
It provides services including comprehensive assessment of children who are new to foster care, checkups, referrals to specialists and access to services such as a dietician, mental health and developmental assessments..
The clinic, which opened in January, works with foster parents, social workers and the Department of Child and Family Services — in collaboration with the Department of Human Services.
There are clinics, including one in Peoria, that offer initial intake of foster patients, but nurse practitioner Rebecca Howard, who came up with the idea for the clinic, said she believes there are no others in Illinois that provide continuing care,
Howard, who has experience as a foster parent, said the clinic can improve communication between entities that serve foster kids and ensure continuity of care.
“Despite wherever the kiddo is placed, we would like to still be able to provide their medical care so that it doesn't become so fractured. A lot of times when kids are in foster care, they may move from one place to another and that move may mean a loss of medications or a loss medical equipment or change a new provider, and everything kind of has to start over again.’’
The clinic also offers “an understanding for what kids and families are going through after they've been displaced from home. And we have a lot of education in how trauma affects the brain and the growing bodies of children,” Howard said.
Foster parent Bethany Caldwell of Springfield said the clinic has improved the way she gets medical care for her foster charges.
“It is making things much easier because we can just go there and they are (the clinic) making the referral. They're interfacing with the agency (DCFS). They're making sure everybody knows what they need to know and getting everything done for them that they need,’’ Caldwell said.
The clinic, known as Kids Health Harbor, is operated out the Center for Family Medicine at 520 N. Fourth St. in Springfield.