"Many birth defects affect the oral-facial region of the body. These defects include the commonly known cleft lip and/or palate deformities, nasal deformities, ear deformities, various facial syndromes and speech disorders," says a brochure prepared by Children's Hospital for the Cleft Lip and Palate Parent Support Group at the hospital.
All parents who have cleft lip and/or cleft palate children who are being treated at Children's Oral-Facial Anomaly Center are members of this group. The psychological and emotional support of parents who have children with these deformities is as important to the doctors and staff at the hospital as the surgical repair of the children affected.
Correction and rehabilitation of these deformities involves the technical skill and experience of many specialists. A multidisciplinary team composed of an audiologist, geneticist, orthodontist, otolarnygologist, pedodontist, pediatrician, phychiatrist, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, speech pathologist, social worker and nurse provides comprehensive evaluations and treatment plans to meet each individual child's needs.
The team approach is economical in terms of both time and money because most of the examinations by specialists are accomplished in one trip to the hospital. Other necessary tests can also be coordinated during that visit. The test results for each child are discussed individually by the team, and recommendations are made to the parents. They are free to utilize Children's Hospital or to use facilities in their local community. A team coordinator follows through to help accomplish those recommendations.
During 1980, members of the Parent Support Group at Children's launched an appeal for funds to area businesses for equipment and toys to place on "4 Blue," a fourth-floor surgical unit, to fill the special needs of children undergoing cleft lip/palate repair. The group also received two anonymous gifts totaling $2,200 during their campaign.
The donations chairwoman of the group, Jana Spaulding, said, "This year's project is aimed at 'endowing' one or two cleft repair operations by appealing to public and private foundations. We would like to make available such surgery for a child whose family would otherwise be unable to afford it.
"As you know," Spaulding continued, "no child in need of medical attention is ever refused treatment at Children's Hospital. Our group would simply like to relieve a small amount of the financial burden placed on the hospital because of this policy."
Spaulding has a special interest in the work of the Parent Support Group because her own son, Ethan, was born with a bilateral cleft lip. He has had two successful operations, and, in the words of his mother, "is a happy little boy with a wonderful life ahead of him."
Life-giving help for all kinds of needy, wonderful children arrived this morning from seven area groups and employers. Leading the list was a $25 check from the American Antique Arts Association, McLean chapter. A $50 check came from the Chemistry Department of Catholic University.
Checks totaling $53 represented the "Administrative Systems Support Branch, Office of ADP Systems Development, Department of HUD."
Our last four groups today used the famous "in lieu of Christmas cards" method to raise substantial gifts for Children's Hospital. The FDA's Office of the Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs continued their longstanding practice by sending $82. Checks totaling $90 arrived from employes of the Diary Division of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Marketing Service. Staff members of Andrews Federal Credit Union collected $185 for Children's by forgoing the exchange of Christmas cards.
Last but not least, the faculty of Springbrook High School in Silver Spring came through again this year for Children's, gathering $356 for the free-care fund. They do it every year.
Those seven groups added $850 to the shoebox, bringing our total to $165,292.31. That's still a far cry from our goal of $231,000-plus.
We still have our two big guns, the Navy and Ma Bell, to lean on, but a last burst of support form concerned District Liners might get us over the top. To help, please send your tax-deductible check, made payable to Children's Hospital, to: Scott Chase, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.