Many people with hemophilia have felt the need to live in metropolitan areas so they would have access to needed medical care. Leonard A. Valentino, MD, director of the Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center at Rush University Medical Center, is part of an outreach program designed to reach underserved areas in the state of Illinois.
"There is a density of treatment centers in the Chicago area," Valentino says. "What we have tried to do with the outreach program is to look at not only rural areas, but also to what I would consider to be underserved areas. Our outreach programs are designed to provide access to high-quality comprehensive care and provide a choice of provider to patients who are more than 40 or 50 miles from the Chicago metropolitan area. I would say it is reasonable to ask people to drive 60 miles, but it is not reasonable to ask them to drive 120 miles. What we have tried to do is set up clinics that are in 60-mile increments from Chicago."
Outreach clinics are located in Hoffman Estates, Aurora (Fox Valley area), Joliet, Kankakee and Champaign/Urbana. The clinics in Fox Valley and Kankakee are at Rush-affiliated hospitals. The others are free-standing office practices. Valentino or his colleague, Emily Czapek, MD, make the clinic visits. A toll-free number — (877) RUSH-KID — facilitates scheduling. There is a clinic day once a month at all the satellite locations, and one comprehensive hemophilia clinic is held in Chicago every month as well as at one of the satellite locations. For example, a comprehensive hemophilia clinic is held in Fox Valley in June and December and in Champaign/Urbana in January and July. Each month we rotate to a different site.
"Our number one goal with these clinics is to provide patients with a choice of providers so there is an option of treatment," Valentino says. "If you live in Chicago, you have a tremendous choice of where you can go. We are trying to extend that sort of choice to the rest of the state.
"We are really bringing the entire comprehensive team to these locations to allow access to all the subspecialists that are required for comprehensive hemophilia care. Not only is it hematology care; we also bring a physical therapist, dentist and social services," he adds. "One of the main advantages of being in a large treatment center is the patients receive state-of-the-art medical care and have an opportunity to participate in clinical research programs. We have two new drug studies and an immune tolerance project in which patients can enroll."
Another program Valentino handles is the monthly Rush Hemostasis seminars, which feature internationally known speakers. Now in its fourth year, its discussion topics include inhibitors, gene therapy and alternative medicine. Held the third Thursday of each month, the seminars are attended by doctors, nurses, social workers, patients and their families, or anyone else who would be interested.
"We have put together an excellent list of speakers who can address all aspects of bleeding and clotting disorders," Valentino says.
Valentino joined the Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Rush Children's Hospital in 1994. In 1998, he became director of the section. He is an associate professor of pediatrics at Rush University. He has been medical director of the Hemophilia Foundation of Illinois since 1997. His areas of expertise include platelet function, blood coagulation, hemophilia, thrombophilia, neuroblastoma biology and metastasis.