To serve the families of Northwest Georgia, as well as neighboring communities in the region and beyond, Hamilton Health Care System will soon begin construction of the Anna Shaw Children’s Institute.
Dedicated to the memory of Anna Sue Shaw, the Institute will be a regional leader of and advocate for the care of children who are experiencing the challenges of autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or developmental delays.
“Mom had a love for children and an empathy for the difficulties they face growing up in our complicated world,” said Susan Young, daughter of Anna Sue and Bob Shaw and a trustee of the Anna Sue and Bob Shaw Foundation. “Our dream is that the Institute will aid and support families by assisting children to achieve their maximum potential and to become happy, healthy, productive adults.”
Hamilton has engaged pediatricians, specialists, and national experts to consider the need for a designated facility to provide comprehensive care and support to children with unique developmental needs.
“Early intervention is key,” said William Edwards, MD. “From birth to age three we develop from total dependence in infancy, to independent exploration as toddlers. Recognizing and addressing any problems with this development is of utmost importance in improving both the child's ability to grow, learn and function, as well as the family's ability to support and teach them.”
Luis Viamonte, MD, said, “This humanitarian initiative by the Anna Sue and Bob Shaw Foundation is a great thing for our community and will have a lasting impact for countless families affected by lifelong conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the state of Georgia, one in 64 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, and one in eight has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In the United States, 17 percent of children have been diagnosed with some type of developmental delay. While early intervention is critical to the long-term well-being of these children and their families, less than half are identified and diagnosed before beginning kindergarten.
“The children of Northwest Georgia have been without adequate access to advanced care in the specialized fields that Hamilton will provide through the Institute,” said Jeffeory White, MD. “Many families have to wait months just to get in to see specialists, and even then, must drive long distances for assessment and ongoing treatment.”
With design elements inspired by the style of a tree house, the Institute will be located in a serene environment reflective of the natural beauty that exists in the region. Families will be able to receive diagnoses, treatment and support all under one roof.
Cognitive, psychological and developmental evaluations will be completed at the Institute to ensure the assessment of each child’s individual skill set and to identify appropriate therapy services to maximize the child’s development. Available therapies for children will include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and feeding therapy. Psychological services will provide assistance to children and families through individual counseling, family counseling and behavioral support services. A treatment navigator – a dedicated Institute employee – will support families through the diagnostic and treatment processes.
To provide these services, Hamilton will recruit specialists in the areas of developmental pediatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology. The Institute will employ a staff of nationally-recognized experts in the study and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, the providers will collaborate with pediatric sub-specialists in the areas of neurology, genetics, gastroenterology and others. The pediatric sub-specialists will have a dedicated care area in the Institute and will travel to the Institute to see the children, rather than the families traveling outside of their community.
Ayman Rifai, MD, said, “Bringing a children’s institute to Dalton will change the lives of so many families. Each child is unique and so are his or her needs. To be able to provide specialized care, that is available close to home with the support of family and friends, brings hope for better outcomes and better quality of life for children and their families.”
Construction of the Institute will begin in October, with completion by March 2019.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to meet the needs of those who don’t have access to the experts required to help our children,” said Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Care System. “As our community’s and the region’s top healthcare provider, it is our privilege to announce this newest commitment to serve families’ healthcare needs.”