SSM Health Medical Minute – STARS program assists pediatric patients with special medical needs

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – The Special Needs Tracking and Awareness Response System (STARS) program began in 2016 to focus on special needs patients who have medical needs beyond what you see in the general pediatric population. They enroll kids with multiple complex medical needs such as tracheostomies, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and much more.

Started by Dr. Steven Laffey, a SLUCare physician and headquartered from SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, STARS tracks children who have special medical needs and train the paramedics within their immediate community for what they might encounter or expect before they arrive on scene for the call.

Tricia Casey, the STARS program coordinator, was a paramedic who spent her career treating and training how to respond to the call for healthy children, but those are not the children who have major medical emergencies.

STARS coordinators are trained within the fire districts. Each child enrolled receives regular contact between caregivers and first responders for the medical needs to be sure that the paramedics are prepared for a STARS emergency call. Local paramedics are able to pull up the STARS unique ID if a call comes in, so experienced staff can reference it prior to seeing the child.

Special advanced training and education is provided by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for the ambulance district, fire department and community hospital. Pre-plans are then set up to match the anticipated needs of the “star” child for those emergency hospitalizations.

Currently, there are 682 “star” children in the database across the Greater St. Louis Metro Area.

To learn more about the STARS program, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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Medical Minute


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