New Outpatient Pediatric Psychology Service

Claire Wallace

Centene Charitable Foundation Gift Supports Key Service

Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital recently added an outpatient psychology service to support medically complex patients who come to the hospital for outpatient therapy or clinics.

Claire Wallace, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at Ranken Jordan, leads the service, which seamlessly integrates with the hospital’s existing therapy program. Dr. Wallace co-treats patients along with speech, occupational and physical therapists.

“This outpatient psychology service fills a void to offer more comprehensive care,” Dr. Wallace says. “We’re not just treating a child’s physical condition, we’re also treating all the psychological components that go with that. By embedding psychology services in outpatient treatments, we’re providing more holistic, wrap-around care.”

Specialized Psychology Expertise

As a pediatric psychologist, Dr. Wallace has specialized training to treat children with medically complex conditions. This means in addition to treating anxiety, depression, and behavior problems, she and the other pediatric psychologists at Ranken Jordan also are trained to help children with sleep, feeding, adherence, pain, adjustment to illness, and trauma.

This is distinct from child clinical psychologists who primarily focus on anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders.

Outpatient Support for Patients and Families

Dr. Wallace often meets with parents individually to help them support their children. With medically complex children, she says the family system is a key issue.

“We treat the whole child and family as a unit to maximize outcomes because what happens in families impacts the patient’s care. We see a lot of stressed out families who struggle to meet their children’s needs once they return home. My goal is to be a bridge to help them transition better. I follow patients and families after they go home so they still have support and are taken care of.”

Improved Treatment Results for Patients

Since the outpatient psychology service began in May, patients and families are already experiencing the benefits.

One 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy had come to Ranken Jordan twice for rehabilitation after surgeries. The child has autism with severe behavioral issues that include self-injury. He had often refused to participate in physical therapy sessions.

After another recent surgery, the boy returned to Ranken Jordan for physical therapy again. This time Dr. Wallace co-treated with the physical therapist from the beginning.

She encouraged the little boy to choose some of his therapy activities and used various distracting techniques to keep his anxiety low during therapy.

“Our therapists are uniquely talented and have a strong behavioral foundation,” she says. “It was wonderful to work as a team to find ways to effectively communicate with the patient and keep him engaged.”

The teamwork paid off immediately. “We started seeing positive sessions from the very first time,” Dr. Wallace says. “The little boy is doing amazingly well in therapy and is actively participating. When his behavior takes a turn, we’re able to get him back on track more easily. Now he’s excited to come here and hugs his therapist each time. This is a huge improvement over previous therapy attempts.”

Collaboration Benefits All Therapies

A St. Louis native, Dr. Wallace received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve University. She also completed her pre-doctoral internship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Wallace has additional expertise in feeding therapy, which she shares with the speech and occupational therapists at Ranken Jordan to complement their work and support patient success with feeding therapy.

“I’m excited to collaborate with our teams for a more holistic approach to each patient so we can provide even better care,” she says.

Partnership Makes Outpatient Psychology Service Possible

The new outpatient psychology service at Ranken Jordan was made possible through a grant from the Centene Charitable Foundation, which invests in innovative programs and services that embrace all populations regardless of ability, age, race or economic status.

“One of Centene Charitable Foundation’s pillars focuses on holistic wellness,” says Brett Moorehouse, MHS, FACHE, president and chief executive officer at Ranken Jordan. “Our missions go hand-in-hand to extend a full circle of care beyond the bedside. We’re grateful for Centene Charitable Foundation’s generosity that has enabled Ranken Jordan to fill a vital need for our patients and community. This impactful gift is already making a significant difference in children’s lives.”