Because of incredible advances in medicine over the last 50 years, the number of children living with complex medical conditions has increased, allowing them to live longer and remain in their homes with their families. While overall, children with complex medical conditions are a minority of the population, they do make up many interactions with the healthcare system, both with our prehospital providers (paramedics and EMT’s) and our hospital providers.
We know that these children have individualized care plans and that their families know best when it comes to caring for them. That’s why we participate in the STARS (Special Needs Tracking and Awareness Response System) program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
STARS is a one-of-a-kind program designed to improve medical care for children with complex medical needs. By creating personalized emergency care plans designed specifically for EMS and Emergency Department (ED) staff, we ensure that timely and appropriate care is given to our most complex patients in the most emergent of times. The program also allows us to be prepared for the unexpected and to be familiar with the variety of not-so-common diseases and disorders, which, in turn, allows EMS and ED providers to feel more comfortable and effective when caring for patients with complex medical conditions.
With the program, each patient is given a STARS lanyard with their number that is communicated to EMS agencies and our Emergency Department, allowing our providers to visualize these care plans ahead of time and prepare for efficient treatment. Families verbalize their “STARS number,” which is their identifier, to 911 dispatch, and our providers immediately start preparing to care for the patient.
Currently, there are over 1,000 patients enrolled in the STARS program through over 100 different ambulance agencies spanning three states. We enroll various patients with complex medical conditions, including tracheostomy and home ventilator dependence, patients on home hospice or with specific end-of-life plans, neurologic disorders, atypical seizures, or those with specific seizure plans, genetic disorders, cerebral shunts, cardiac disorders, and more. It is always an absolute pleasure to take care of our most complex patients and their wonderful families at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
If you are interested in enrolling your child in the STARS program, please contact our STARS EMS Coordinator, Gina Pellerito, at [email protected].