Last week, Cathy Cartwright, a neuroscience nurse at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, left her peers at the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN)’s Annual Meeting with an important message: neuroscience nurses can help hydrocephalus patients and families transition successfully from pediatric to adult care.
Cathy led a session entitled, “The Role of the Neuroscience Nurse in Transitioning Youth to Adult Healthcare” at the AANN meeting in Denver. The goal was to raise awareness among AANN members about the difficulties facing young adults with hydrocephalus when seeking adult care, and to issue a call to action for AANN and neuroscience nurses to become more involved in transition of neuroscience youth.
“Neuroscience nurses play a key role in transition planning for patients and families by initiating early transition planning and educating patients about caring for their hydrocephalus,” Cathy explained.
In addition to serving as a member of the Hydrocephalus Association’s Medical Advisory Board, Cathy was involved in HA’s Transition Summit in 2017 and is helping HA implement its Transition Initiative Action Plan, a multifaceted effort aimed at improving transitional and longitudinal care for adolescents and young adults with hydrocephalus. The Action Plan includes recommendations for hospitals, health systems, practices, professional societies, and HA itself. One of the recommendations from the Summit was for professional organizations, like the AANN, to take an active role in the transition process.
Pediatric hydrocephalus is a significant population health issue. Every year, an estimated 5000 to 6000 teens and young adults living with hydrocephalus leave their pediatric neurosurgeon and/or neurologist only to discover that few adult physicians will take them on as patients. That’s why preparing and planning patients’ transition to adult care is crucial.
Cathy says transition preparation should occur between 12 – 17 years of age, starting early in the teen years, and neuro nurses can help with this process.
“Transition is a journey and a destination, shared with pediatric and adult providers, patients and families. It’s important that transition planning begin early in the teen years so preparation for transition to adult care progresses smoothly,” Cathy said.
Learn more about HA’s Transition Initiative: