An international patient story of care coordination at its most complex.

Trude Haecker, MD, is Medical Director and Cathy Timko, MSN, CRNP, is Clinical Nurse Coordinator for Global Patient Services (GPS)

When 3-year-old Yousef Alzaini came to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia nearly a year ago from his home country of Qatar, his Guillain–Barré syndrome had progressed to where he was completely paralyzed and relied on a ventilator to breathe. He was brought via air ambulance to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where neurologist Daniel Licht, MD, oversaw his comprehensive treatment.

After a year of intensive inpatient and outpatient therapy— including significant time in rehabilitation—Yousef is talking, running and preparing to return home. CHOP changed Yousef ’s life for the better by pulling from its immense pool of resources to deliver care that was medically and culturally appropriate.

This is also a story of care coordination at its most complex, involving a multidepartmental team that included Global Patient Services (GPS), Neurology, intensive and progressive care units, ENT, Rehabilitation Medicine, Children’s Seashore House rehab unit, inpatient and outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy, Interpreter Services, and Social Work.

International patients create an opportunity for CHOP providers to care for some of the most medically complex patients in the world, to advance clinical knowledge—especially for trainees who gain exposure they might not otherwise—and to diversify our revenue stream. Our trainees learn how to interact with patients and families from a variety of different cultures; 90 different countries have been represented since 2010. Nearly 60% of international patients come from the Gulf region, in particular from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

The distinct aspects of GPS below were developed to enhance the care experience for international patients, but can apply to all medically complex patients.

  • A Patient Care Navigator meets with each arriving patient and family from the Gulf region to orient them to CHOP and give them information on our support services such as the Hospital’s halal menu, the use of interpreters, and appointment etiquette.
  • Families receive a CHOP identification card with the child’s medical record number, so communication is enhanced at the entrance of the Hospital and efficient when registering for an appointment.
  • An interpreter who speaks the proper language and dialect accompanies the family to any specialty or general pediatrics visit.
  • GPS experienced nurse practitioners and nurses serve as care coordinators who arrange for the child’s visit to CHOP, facilitate scheduling appointments, refilling medications, ordering medical equipment, working as a liaison with various specialists, and coordinating patient discharge.
  • GPS works with each division and department at CHOP, often with specific physicians/NPs who are clinical experts and sensitive to the cultural nuances of caring for patients and families from other countries.