Ranken Jordan Medical Leader Presents TEDxStLouis Talk

To share the dramatic success of a one-of-a-kind program that’s fueling developmental milestones for kids who are in the hospital long-term, Nick Holekamp, MD, chief medical officer at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, has been invited to speak at TEDxStLouis “Imagine That!” talks Saturday, May 13.

One of six speakers at the “Imagine That!” event, Dr. Holekamp will present “The Road to OZ: Taking Care Beyond the Bedside to get Better Outcomes for Really Sick Kids.”

Ranken Jordan specializes in caring for children with a complex mix of medical and developmental needs due to premature birth, injuries, or diseases. More than 70% of children at Ranken Jordan are on a ventilator to help them breathe.

“Because a growing number of children with medically complex needs can’t go home safely, they tend to stay in the hospital for many months and sometimes years—often during a critical developmental window,” explains Dr. Holekamp.

Health care studies have shown children with tracheostomies and ventilators recently discharged home found that nearly 80% of these patients perform below the 5th percentile in developmental activities and mobility.

A year ago, Ranken Jordan launched an innovative program called OZ (Optimization Zone) to ensure children who are in the hospital long-term during the sensitive early childhood developmental window spend more time out of their beds engaged in play and social activities.

Today, OZ has evolved into a comprehensive early childhood education center designed just for Ranken Jordan patients ages 0-5.

In many ways, OZ looks like a traditional preschool setting with low tables, mats, toys and a water table. But it also has special accommodations for children with high medical needs. That includes multiple outlets to plug in medical equipment, ventilators, suction machines, medical strollers and adaptive seating arrangements to allow all children to participate with no obstacles.

“OZ gives children an opportunity to play in an environment set up for maximum development.” Dr. Holekamp says. “In addition, the OZ curriculum is planned in close collaboration with the therapy team to support therapy goals. Children practice the skills they are learning in therapy through play while also interacting with other children to develop social skills and independence.”

OZ is currently the only program like it in the country. But Dr. Holekamp and the Ranken Jordan team are determined to change that so more kids benefit from a focus on developmental opportunities while in the hospital. That’s one of the reasons why Dr. Holekamp is excited to be part of the TedxStLouis speaker series.

In addition, Dr. Holekamp and Claire Wallace, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at Ranken Jordan, have been presenting about the impact of OZ at conferences around the country to educate health care professionals about the importance of addressing children’s developmental needs while they are in the hospital long-term.

OZ complements Ranken Jordan’s care model of Care Beyond the Bedside, pioneered by Dr. Holekamp more than 20 years ago. This model focuses on getting children out of bed to play and socialize while also keeping them safe. Dr. Holekamp is as passionate as ever about addressing children’s developmental needs and sees OZ as the next logical step.

Dr. Holekamp will go into greater detail about OZ in his presentation through TEDxStLouis  “Imagine That!” talks May 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Prep located at 425 S. Lindbergh Boulevard in St. Louis. For more information or to register, visit http://www.tedxsaintlouis.org.

TEDxStLouis is a nonprofit community of learners and change-agents in St. Louis. Founded in 2013, TEDxStLouis provides the community with events, connections, and ongoing information.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.  At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.