It's hard to say who is more enthusiastic about the opening of the new William and Mildred Levine Autism Clinic: the patients and families who will come for care or the clinical staff who will provide it.
Both groups have reason to be excited and proud: the clinic team, patients and families helped design the space together. And they’ll define a new approach to care together: this will be the region’s first stand-alone clinic to integrate care of autism with pediatric neuromedicine and child and adolescent psychiatry services.
For the first time in our area, specialists in autism, child and adolescent psychiatry and neuromedicine services will work in the same space, offering multidisciplinary care to children and teens. Patients who need to see one or more providers can find them in the same clinic, and those providers can collaborate and consult more easily on the patients they share.
Clinicians in the Levine Autism Clinic will offer care in a child-friendly environment that meets the unique physical, sensory and environmental needs of children who need those services. For example, many patients with autism spectrum disorders become anxious and uncomfortable in loud, busy places, so caregivers have helped designers plan a quiet, soothing place for appointments. Clinical teams as well as patients and their families had input on the design of the clinic. Families recommended attention to lighting and noise reduction and creation of a family support and sibling care area known as the Kids Club.
“Children and families thrive when they receive care where they feel safe, calm, and comfortable,” said Pediatrician-in-Chief Nina Schor, M.D. Ph.D., of the Golisano Children’s Hospital. “We are proud to be a leader in patient-centric care and provide this model to all of our patients and families.”
The project was supported by a $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation. Todd Levine, president of his family’s foundation and Alleson Athletic, and his wife, Julie, recognize the importance of easy access to high-quality autism care at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“Helping create a stand-alone clinic where children with developmental disabilities can receive comprehensive care will allow us to reach for new heights, ensuring everyone receives the best services and care possible,” he said.
In the past year, more than 500 children in our region were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, leading to more than 3,500 visits. The new clinic will accommodate the growing need for diagnosis and treatment.
The clinic is housed in a 90,000-square-foot, three-story building that also brings our area a new, state-of-the-art outpatient Imaging Center. The project relocates these vital services from the University of Rochester Medical Center campus to an easily accessible location along East River Road and the I-390 corridor. The building’s top floor will be home to the Levine Autism Clinic.
The Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics team will be co-located with neurology, behavioral and mental health programs, which is convenient for families that see specialists in each of those programs. The physical proximity of the programs will foster greater collaboration among the multidisciplinary caregivers and will benefit patients and families.
“We’re looking forward to the collaboration between programs and the ability to give patients a more convenient, accessible place to receive care,” said Lynn Cole, MS, PNP, Director of Clinical Services in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. “Having all the resources patients will need in one spot will be much simpler for families. We’ve been talking a lot with patients and families — they are really excited about our move.”
After years of envisioning what this clinic could be, and seeing it through to completion, the staff is excited for the building to open too — so much so, they’re planning two open houses for patients, their families and the community.
“We’re hosting an event for families, community pediatricians, and schools — anyone who wants to come,” Cole said. “But we’re also offering a sensory-friendly, quieter and calmer open house because many of our patients struggle with change and doing new things differently. We want to give them a chance to experience the new clinic in a way that’s comfortable for them.”