When Kelly Socha, 32, arrived at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare in New Brighton, MN, he was prepared for a long day. “I brought a backpack full of books and schoolwork,” he explained. “I thought I’d be spending all day at the clinic.”
Socha and his wife, Julia, 29, were two of the Lifetime clinic’s first patients with spina bifida. Although the couple, from Hugo, had seen several health-care providers over the years, neither had received specialized care tailored to adults. That changed when Gillette expanded its Lifetime clinic, which served only adults (16 and older) with cerebral palsy when it opened in 2001. Today, the clinic sees adults with spina bifida, cerebral palsy and related conditions.Coordinated Appointments Save Time
Kelly Socha was scheduled to see seven specialists during his first visit–a seating specialist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a urologist, a neurologist, and a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. Because the Lifetime clinic uses a team approach, Socha’s appointments took only 3½ hours–a far cry from his past experiences.
“Normally, I would have taken seven days off work to see seven specialists,” he says. “I really appreciate that the Lifetime clinic coordinates openings in one facility on the same day. I consider my time very valuable. The Lifetime clinic recognizes that and schedules my appointments effectively.”
Socha’s visit also shed light on his health. “The urologist took one look at the medication I’ve been on for 20 years and said we were changing to a newer, more effective medication,” he says. “I had several medical issues addressed, and a few new issues arose that had gone undetected in the past. Everyone was looking for ways to improve my health.”
Clinic Continues to Expand
The clinic’s spina bifida team includes a neurosurgeon, several physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, and a urologist. For example, available appointments with the urologist are broken down into two categories:
- Tuesday mornings–to address bowel and bladder issues and questions related to sexuality.
- Wednesday afternoons–for patients with no complex urologic needs or patients whose urologic needs are being met elsewhere.
Beginning in July, Moeen Masood, M.D., will provide neurology services on Monday mornings. He’ll see patients who have muscular dystrophy, spinal muscle atrophy, genetic neuromuscular conditions, movement disorders, neuropathy, seizure disorders and migraine headaches. He’ll also address the rehabilitation aspects of metabolic neuromuscular disorders, such as leukodystrophy.
And a new radiology suite provides traditional flat-plate radiography services. Its adjustable-height table has a sliding surface, which lets staff use a patient lift for safe, comfortable transfers.
More About the Clinic
The Lifetime clinic focuses on preventing the secondary effects of disabilities, maximizing patients’ abilities and minimizing the impact of aging on disabilities. Gillette also helps adolescents make the transition to adult care and take a more active role in directing their health care.
During initial visits, patients might see social workers, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, seating specialists and orthotists to establish a comprehensive evaluation of their current health. Subsequent appointments can be made with one provider. The multidisciplinary on-site staff includes:
- Becky Koerner, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist–cerebral palsy;
- Linda E. Krach, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist–baclofen pump refills and spasticity management services;
- Kevin Murphy, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist–cerebral palsy;
- Michael Partington, M.D., neurosurgeon;
- Kevin Sheridan, M.D, internal medicine specialist–thorough, general medical examinations;
- Michael Wipf, M.D., urologist.
To learn more about the clinic, please call Ronna Linroth at 651-636-9443. To learn more about the spina bifida program, please call Kim Marben at 651-229-3878.