PATCH (Patient Assistance Team at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center)

Using individualized care plans to improve the healthcare experience for children with developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges

Coming into a medical setting — whether a trip to the emergency room, a scheduled procedure, or a hospital stay — can increase anxiety for children and their family caregivers. But for those who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, even a standard checkup can feel acutely stressful. That’s because certain physical or environmental stimuli may make children with autism feel uncomfortable. For example, certain sounds may raise anxiety, or the feel of a medical ID bracelet around the wrist can feel scratchy, distracting, or even painful. Knowing those triggers can help ease stress for both patients and families. That’s why Children’s has implemented a unique program called PATCH.

“We were overwhelmed with the care and support shown to our family through the PATCH program. From the initial phone call to create a plan for my daughter to her MRI experience, it’s clear just how much Children’s cares.” – Mother of a patient

How Does PATCH Work?

PATCH, which stands for Patient Assistance Team at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, is a patient-centered, team-based program to support children with developmental, neurological, and behavioral challenges. It includes the creation and implementation of individualized adaptive care plans largely based on insights provided by parents about their child, such as past health care experiences, negative triggers, calming measures, and effective ways to communicate.

For parents and guardians:

  • When your child is being admitted you will be asked to complete a PATCH questionnaire. Even if we have an adaptive care plan in your child’s records from a previous admission, it is important for you to review the questionnaire each time so that we have the most current information.
  • A Child Life Specialist will be available to help facilitate the process so that the PATCH care plan accurately represents your child’s specific needs.
  • The PATCH care plan becomes part of your child’s medical record and will be accessible when you bring your child in for future services.
  • While staff do their best to adapt the environment and procedures to help your child, we ask you to please understand that some things that are required by hospital rules cannot be changed.

“We know that every parent is an expert about their own children; they know what works and what doesn’t. PATCH gives them a voice; it makes them a part of the care team so that we can all work together for the best possible outcome for each child.” Mike Vance, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health

Our commitment to you:

  • We will carefully consider the information you share and use your insights to help create the PATCH care plan.
  • Your child’s PATCH care plan will be available to staff who will be working with your child so they can help make your child’s experience as stress-free as possible.
  • Our Child Life specialists will help coordinate adaptive care strategies and resources and be physically present when necessary to assist you, your child, and the care team.
  • We will offer your child choices when appropriate so they can have a voice and participate in their own care.

“The PATCH adaptive care plan provides key information so we can bring caregivers together to thoughtfully strategize interventions and proactively plan delivery of care for each patient based on their individual needs. It really makes a difference.” Rob Harding, BS Child Life Specialist

If you would like to learn more about PATCH, please email us at

Patricia Sullivan, Ph.D.
PATCH Program Coordinator
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center


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