A unique day treatment program for children and adolescents with medical issues complicated by emotional and behavioral challenges is now open UT Physicians in the Texas Medical Center. The UT Physicians PATH program team is comprised of faculty and staff at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

“The PATH program has been a dream of mine for many years,” said Rebecca Girardet, M.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Child Protection Pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “It is now a reality. UT Physicians PATH is an integrative day treatment program that fills a gap in health care. For many PATH patients, traditional clinic and hospital care cannot meet all of their needs, resulting in repeated outpatient visits and hospitalizations.”

PATH is a program that addresses the whole child. A typical patient could have an illness or conditions such as diabetes, asthma, seizures, or chronic pain, which can be complicated by emotional or behavioral issues.

“The intervention we have in place will give these children and their families new tools to be successful,” said Misti Ellsworth, D.O., co-director of PATH and assistant professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School. “They will spend most of the day with us.”

According to Carolyn Ha, Ph.D., co-director of PATH and post-doctoral research fellow at McGovern Medical School, the program provides family-centered and integrative care by taking a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment and care of children and by providing evidence-based treatments with individualized plans tailored to each child.

Children are referred to the program from a hospital or by a provider who believes their needs are not being met with standard care. To enroll in PATH, a child must be between the ages of 9 and 18. The program is from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday for two to four weeks. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided.

Each child is medically evaluated daily by a staff pediatrician and nurse. Patients will spend 90 minutes each day with an educator who will ensure the child’s academic needs are met through partnerships with their home schools. Patients will participate in family, individual and peer-support therapy, as well as other therapeutic activities including art, music, and crafts. Parents are an essential part of their child’s integrative care and will participate in a multifamily support group once a week.

Other PATH program staff include Jason James, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Nicole Maples, LCSW; Cynthia Carter, LCSW; Emma Jones, LMSW; Monica McGuire, R.N.; Kimberly Bayliss, CCLS; and Nina Cofer, Ph.D.

For more information, call UT Physicians, the medical practice of McGovern Medical School, at 713.500.7840, email the program at PATHprogram@uth.tmc.edu.