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An Adult Center for Childhood Onset Rheumatic Disease: A Unique Collaboration

An Adult Center for Childhood Onset Rheumatic Disease: A Unique Collaboration

As much as 20% of chronic, incurable autoimmune diseases are diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. This includes diseases that can lead to organ failure, progressive and permanent debility, and premature death. These diseases require close and ongoing rheumatologic care over the course of a lifetime. This presents a unique challenge. How can we care for these patients as they “transition” from children and adolescents into adults?

Beginning in the fall of 2018, the adult center for childhood onset rheumatic disease has been attempting to do exactly that. This clinic represents an exciting and unique collaboration between the University of Utah, Intermountain Health Care, the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology and Internal Medicine’s Division of Rheumatology.

Led by the vision of University of Utah’s own “Med-Peds” trained Dr. Rebecca Overbury, who practices both in the Department of Pediatrics Rheumatology Clinic as well as the Department of Internal Medicine Transitional Rheumatology Clinic, familiarity with transition and the difficulties involved is improving. Pediatric and adolescent patients are educated and prepared for transition readiness and medical system autonomy, all in the familiar environment of the pediatric rheumatology clinic. Preparations for transition are formalized, streamlined, and enhanced in order to facilitate successful transfer to an adult rheumatologist. Finally, whenever possible, transitioning young adults seamlessly “cross the bridge” to continue care with the now familiar face of Dr. Overbury and her colleagues.

The mission is simple:

To provide evidence-based, compassionate, consistent, holistic, and high-quality care to young adult patients with chronic rheumatologic disease in the Intermountain West.

Many patients have already safely transitioned from young adults/adolescents into adult rheumatologic care. Collaborations with primary care colleagues further strengthen the safety net for these vulnerable patients. The Division of Rheumatology looks forward to future collaborations, continued inspiring mentorship, further research into how to strengthen our clinical procedures, and the honor of continuing to care for such a special and rewarding patient population.