Physician: Dr. John Gordon, Special Needs Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Dr. John Gordon moved to Milwaukee in 1996 to work in the intensive care unit and conduct research at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and started the Special Needs Program in 2002 to  provide chronic care for medically fragile children. 

“I have always enjoyed looking after chronic patients and I am astounded by the parents of chronic care kids,” said Gordon. “The most rewarding part of my job is working and helping families deal with the complexities of their children and providing them a place to turn to.”

To qualify for application into the program, a child must have five or more specialists, have been in the hospital a minimum of 10 visits and/or two hospitalizations. The program currently holds 140 to 150 patients, and provides a single contact for managing the child’s general, specialty and emergency care.

“The program bridges between the communication gaps and specialty sources and provides the family a point of contact for all of their child’s care,” said Gordon.

Gordon’s team is also available to assist with decision making.

“Being somebody that can look at the big picture, I can sit with the parents to see their concerns and help guide them in decision making,” said Gordon.

Gordon was nominated for a Health Care Hero Award by two families in the Specal Needs Program. They described him as an advocate for exceptional care.

“He is willing to dedicate himself to our kids,” said Sally Schaeffer.

“The safety net of his program was there if we needed it and at a time where we were frequent flyers in the hospital we wanted to establish a sense of normalcy and Dr. Gordon was able to do that for our family,” said Mary Greener.

“John Vice, former president and CEO of Children’s Hospital, saw the indirect benefits of this program from the get go when he decided to support it,” said Gordon.

With this program, Gordon has seen a 50 percent reduction in hospital stays post-care in the program.

The success of the program at Children’s Hospital has sparked discussion of creating similar quick connection programs in other areas of care. Similar programs have been replicated nationally in complex care.

“(Children’s Hospital) is a growing institution and will become a national or international referral center that when families come from far away they would have a managed care system in place,” Gordon said.

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