The Congenital Craniofacial Care Center at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi has received its official accreditation, making it the only accredited specialized care center in the New York City hospital system for children with cleft palates and cleft lips.
The accreditation, by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, is a major boost for the Center, which was created only three years ago.
“They make sure your team is providing comprehensive care for long-term patients who have lifetime needs for surgical, medical, psychological and social services,” says Dr. Eugene J. Sidoti Jr., Director of the Center. “If you prove you are delivering this degree of care, you are accredited. People can find you more easily, you are included in the list of accredited teams and the association will send referrals to you.”
Dr. Sidoti, who has worked at Jacobi since 1995 and was born at Jacobi 55 years ago, has been treating infants with facial abnormalities for many years as a plastic surgeon. After joining the Department of Dental/Oral Surgery, his colleagues helped him create the Center in 2013, and they are now able to provide the many services these patients need in a more coordinated way.
Among the disciplines represented at the Center are plastic surgery, oral surgery, dentistry, orthodontics, pediatrics, neonatology, speech and language pathologies, otolaryngology (ENT), genetics, psychiatry, audiology, social services and nursing care.
Infants with facial abnormalities often require years of surgeries and treatment, so coordinating each patient’s care with the entire team is an important service provided by the Center. Dr. Sidoti notes each procedure must adhere to a specific timetable in order to maximize the result and minimize any complications.
“Because patients require long-term multiple services, the best way to deliver that care is in a coordinated fashion,” he says. “It enables us to address their physical as well as any social and psychiatric problems they may have. Ultimately, it maximizes the benefit to the patient.”
He also says that coordinating patients’ care improves the relationship among the patients, their families and their doctors. “We have a coordinator whose sole job is to coordinate the care so patients don’t have to come back to the hospital 10 times a week,” Dr. Sidoti says. “They consolidate appointments and make patients feel more comfortable with their care.”
The Center’s services include not only oral surgery, but also speech and language counseling—since patients often have speech difficulties — ensuring proper dental and jaw development and treating any complications, such as ear infections.
“Our objective is to make their lives as normal as possible,” Dr. Sidoti says. “In most cases, most patients are considered normal enough in both appearance and behavior. Sometimes we can’t achieve that objective, but we try to make it as close as possible.”
The Center currently has 40 patients and is adding patients at the rate of between 12 and 15 per year. “Since they stay with us for 15 to 20 years, we are accumulating a number of patients over time,” he says.
Dr. Sidoti says his goal is to grow the Center so that it can treat more patients and treat more complex cases. “There is a push toward regionalization of care,” he says. “Since we’re the only Center in the City hospital system, we want to be the Center where our New York City hospitals can send their patients to receive care in a comprehensive way.”