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HeartShare Wellness Medical Director, Dr. Vincent Siasoco, and Self-Advocate, Gilbert Plaza, gave a lecture to the Family Medicine residents at NYU Lutheran Hospital on Thursday, October 22, addressing barriers to health care for patients with special needs.
To reconcile unmet health care needs for people with disabilities, the HeartShare Wellness clinic established a rotation for NYU Lutheran and Mount Sinai Hospitals’ Family Medicine residents, to train them on how to provide care to patients with special needs. It is a unique clinical rotation in that it’s the only training during their three-year residency in which they get direct exposure and hands-on training with this patient population. “During their clinical rotation at HeartShare Wellness, the residents not only learn how to care for patients with disabilities, but get a better understanding of their physical, social, and daily needs. The hope is that upon graduation, these residents will apply this experience to their own practice and be able to provide compassionate, quality care to our patient population,” said Dr. Siasoco.
Gilbert, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has been a patient at HeartShare Wellness for over 15 years, proposed that the rotation initiative is precisely the way to resolve this systemic problem. From first-hand experience, Gilbert told the NYU Lutheran residents, “If you want to work with us (people with disabilities), you have to come and see the problems we face. It’s the only way for you to open your hearts and your minds. We have a lot to teach you.” Gilbert is a notable Self-Advocate in the New York community, who also resides at HeartShare’s Giannattasio Residence and works in administration at HeartShare’s Brooklyn Day Habilitation Program. In his presentation to the medical residents, Dr. Siasoco also explained that people with disabilities often face many barriers in obtaining quality healthcare. These barriers include physical barriers, in which clinics may not be able to accommodate a wheelchair in an exam room, lack of understanding, stereotyping, and poor communication leading to poor care coordination.
The HeartShare Wellness clinic for children and adults with developmental disabilities offers primary medical care and specialized services, including pediatrics, adolescent and adult psychiatry, podiatry, neurology, optometry and women’s health. In addition to having providers with expertise in caring for people with special needs, the Wellness clinic is equipped with height adjustable examination tables and a wheelchair accessible weight scale. Wellness’ Targeted Case Management Program, known as Health Home, also provides important case management services for children and adults with two or more chronic conditions.
For more information, visit www.heartsharewellness.org and follow us on Facebook @HeartshareWellness.