Family-Centered Care

Leslie Clancy and young patient reading at Molly's Place

Doctors used to be the center of care. Today we put families at the center of care, and coordinate the care around their needs.

William E. Boyle, JR., MD

When a pediatric patient is admitted to CHaD or receives care at a CHaD clinic, the child’s family is an important part of the care team. That’s because CHaD has been focusing on family-centered patient care for more than 20 years.

CHaD made this commitment in 1998, when Pediatrician William E. Boyle Jr., MD, co-founded the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program with Jane Stetson, the parent of a CHaD patient. While Stetson thought her daughter’s medical care was first-rate, she felt the emotional care of the patient and family needed improvement. This also led them to create the CHaD Family Advisory Board, which still exists, allowing hospital leaders and families to work together to provide the ideal care experience.

“In the old days, the doctor was at the center of care,” says Boyle, who retired in 2012 but still meets monthly with the Family Advisory Board. “But now we put families at the center of care—either health care or illness care—and coordinate the care around their needs.”

Thanks to the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program, parents, doctors, doctors-in-training and various community agencies and groups all collaborate to support families beyond the walls of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). “Everything is really based on patient and family needs, and we encourage families to pick up the phone or send an email to our providers to get their questions answered,” says

Holly Gaspar, MED, MPH, community health partnership coordinator for Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H’s) Community Health Improvement program.

“We also bridge their medical care with the home environment by helping families with their longer-term health and wellbeing. This includes working with local food banks, housing and shelter programs, parent-child centers and WIC (the federal supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children).”

CHaD also sponsors its own outreach programs. These include “Doc Nights” at the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction, VT, where a group of CHaD pediatric residents meet with individuals and families staying at this temporary shelter, and “From the Other Side of the Stethoscope,” in which medical students and residents meet with a patient (frequently one with a chronic condition) at home to see what their lives are like outside of the hospital.

Patients and families also benefit from the support of Molly’s Place and D-H’s Community Health Improvement program. Molly’s Place, which is used annually by 15,000 CHaD patients and families, has computers, a small resource library and a play area, offering families a place to relax or get work done between appointments. Two staff members are also on hand—Darcy Emerson in the morning

and Leslie Clancy in the afternoon—to answer questions and provide referral services, health information and educational programs to any family visiting DHMC.

“We connect families with community resources and help them sign up for health insurance, find support groups, whatever the family’s needs are at that moment,” says Kathy Stocker, program manager for the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program, noting that both inpatient and outpatient families use Molly’s Place. “We also provide gas cards through Irving Oil’s ‘Fuel the Care’ program for families traveling long distances for specialty care, ‘My Health Care Notebooks’ with information about their child’s specific care, free fresh fruit and snacks and free coffee from Dunkin’.” Stocker notes that Molly’s Place also provides bike helmets (for a small donation) through a partnership with CHaD’s Injury Prevention Center, and gives out 6,000 free children’s books annually during well-child visits—thanks to CHaD’s participation in the national “Reach Out and Read” program.

Boyle is proud of all the work done on behalf of CHaD patients and families since the creation of the Boyle program. He’s especially proud of the work that current Program Director and Pediatrician Steve Chapman, MD, is doing, particularly with the Moms in Recovery, a program for pregnant and parenting women who struggle with substance use. The program provides pediatric care for participants’ children, childcare, healthy snacks and foods (provided by the Upper Valley Haven) and free dental care through the Red Logan Dental Clinic at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction, VT.

“I am really happy that Steve Chapman is heading the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program and has taken it to a higher level,” says Boyle. “He’s doing a beautiful job.”

Through D-H’s Community Health Improvement program, Gaspar is also working on programs at DHMC, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, Valley Regional Pediatrics, the Newport Health Center and soon at New London Hospital for children and families impacted by parental substance use disorder. “We’re building recovery-friendly pediatric practices and partnering with parent-child centers and family resource centers across the state to deliver care within a clinical setting,” Gaspar says. “We’re also partnering with CHaD Community Relations, CHaD’s Child Life Program, D-H’s Women’s Health Resource Center and our outpatient teams on several initiatives to create awareness—and rethink how we engage children and families in health and health care using prevention, engagement and access to improve health outcomes. Children are our future and, if we invest in them today, then what children and families are able to give back to society is only going to be stronger.”