PATCH Program

PATCH (Patient Assistance Team At Children’s Nebraska)

The Patient Assistance Team at Children’s Nebraska or PATCH is a program that helps us improve the hospital experience for a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental, neurological, and behavioral challenges. We work with parents to create individualized adaptive care plans unique to their child that is based on their communication needs, sensory differences, and past healthcare experiences.

Learn More about How PATCH Works

For Parents

At Childrens Nebraska, your child’s care providers can initiate a PATCH referral for your child, and we also have hospital admission processes and scheduling procedures that help us identify patients who might benefit from the program, so as a parent you do not have to do a thing.

If you would like to be proactive in getting a PATCH plan in place before your next appointment or hospital visit and your child is a patient at Children’s, you can ask your child’s provider to make a PATCH Referral, or you can email the PATCH team directly at [email protected] with your request or questions.

If your child is not a patient at Children’s, you can still benefit from PATCH. We have created a self-directed version of the PATCH Adaptive Care Plan to assist in creating a personal adaptive care plan that you can save and share with your child’s care team. Click here for more information on the Community Resource Adaptive Care Plan

Frequently Asked Questions from Parents

  • What goes into my child's adaptive care plan?

    When you get started with PATCH, you will need to fill out a questionnaire that will help us get to know your child’s needs better. Based on your responses, we will craft an adaptive care plan that includes information about your child’s:
    • Previous experience with receiving care
    • Communication style and abilities
    • Preferences while receiving care
    • Adaptability to new people and situations
    • Sensitivity to stimuli like crowds, sounds, colors, smells, or tone of voice

    This plan will become a part of your child’s medical record for future care.

  • How exactly does PATCH work?

    Before your child’s visit, the adaptive care plan is reviewed by members of your child’s health care team.

    When you arrive, our providers and staff put PATCH into action:

    • To the extent possible, we will use your ideas about how best to support your child.
    • We will offer your child choices (where possible) so they have the opportunity to participate in their own care.
    • Our Child Life Specialists will help coordinate adaptive care strategies and resources.
    • If your child is in need of a more in-depth preparation prior to their experience, contact our Child Life team to learn about additional support services

    While staff do their best to adapt the environment and procedures to help your child, we ask you to please understand that some things that are required by hospital rules cannot be changed.

  • How does the staff know that my child has a PATCH plan?

    Once your child has an adaptive care plan, it becomes a part of their medical record. When your child’s provider opens up their electronic medical record, they will see a special banner that signals to them that your child is a PATCH participant.
  • What happens if my child receives care outside of Children’s?

    At the moment, the PATCH program is unique in our region to Children’s Hospital — but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you are somewhere else.

    Coming soon, your child’s PATCH plan will be available to you on your electronic device through our new AdaptCare App. Using AdaptCare, you will be able to pull up your child’s plan on your phone or tablet and share it electronically with anyone who provides care or services to your child—another health care provider, your child’s school health office, counselor, teacher, family members or babysitters. We are putting the plan in your hands to share with others as you wish.

    If your child is not a patient at Children’s and does not have a PATCH plan as a part of their medical record, you can download our self-guided adaptive care plan questionnaire to create a personal version that you can share with your child’s provider or care team when they are treated outside of Children’s. While they may not have been trained in the same way or be very familiar with PATCH, they may still appreciate having that information so that they can give your child the best care and experience.

  • Who is involved in creating my child’s care plan?

    A Child Life Specialist will be your main point of contact and they will guide the process to create a comprehensive plan to support your child. This can include reviewing notes from past healthcare encounters or seeking input from members of your child’s care team.

    However, when it comes to your child’s needs, you are the expert. You know your child best, and your insight is what truly allows us to create the best possible care plan.

  • My child is already enrolled in Project Austin. Is that the same thing?

    PATCH and Project Austin have similar goals, but they are not the same program.

    Project Austin is focused specifically on ensuring that your child’s special healthcare needs are met during a medical emergency. We work with both providers at Children’s and local emergency medical services (EMS) workers on learning how to meet those needs.

    PATCH is focused on improving the overall healthcare experience any time your child receives care at Children’s, whether it’s in the Emergency Department, at an outpatient appointment, or during an inpatient stay.

    Your child can be enrolled in both PATCH and Project Austin at the same time.

    Learn more about Project Austin.

“The first two surgeries after implementing the PATCH program went so much more smoothly than in the past…I didn’t have to be ‘on guard’ at all times. [Without PATCH], I always have to intercept people and explain his quirks and calm my son down when someone speaks in a loud voice or does things in a way that would causes him anxiety. Not only was the program helpful . . . it one of the best ideas my children’s hospital, or any hospital for that matter should invest in.”

— Parent of a PATCH Patient

For Referring Providers

Children’s providers who would like to request a PATCH plan for a patient can use Epic to place a PATCH Child Life Consult Order for inpatients or initiate a PATCH Child Life Referral for outpatients.

If you are a provider outside of the Children’s Hospital network who is scheduling a patient who has autism for services at a Children’s facility, you may request a PATCH Child Life Referral through Physician’s Connect or fill out our online referral form and we will work with the family to create an Adaptive Care Plan for their upcoming visit.

“So many children and their families struggle when they need repeated procedures — especially if they have special needs and find procedures to be traumatic. But if there’s a way that we as providers can make that experience as positive as possible, that’s an amazing resource for patients and parents to utilize.”

— Erica Peterson, MD, MPH, Referring provider at Bluestem Main Clinic

Contact Us

Call: (402) 955-5400

Email: [email protected]

For general questions about PATCH, email us at [email protected], or call (402) 955-5400 and ask to speak with a member of the Child Life team or Dr. Patricia Sullivan in Behavioral Health.

Picture of Chase (PATCH patient)

Chase’s Story

“Chase has never liked getting medical care. He doesn’t like people touching him — especially around the face and mouth — so we were worried when he had to get a dental procedure. But once we had a PATCH plan, it was completely different. As soon as we walked in, everyone knew what to do. They assured him that there wouldn’t be any needles and checked in to make sure that he was always comfortable. Everyone, including Chase, could see how well the appointment went. It hasn’t just benefited him. It’s been great for the whole family. There’s a common perception that parents of children with autism are being difficult, but we are not — we want what’s best for our child. The PATCH program gives us the comfort that Children’s wants the same thing. Children’s respects our family and the fact that we know our child best.”

— Cheri, mother of a PATCH participant


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