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Levi's Link program improves hospital experience for adults, children

Published on Thursday, March 21, 2019

PORT HURON, Mich. -- When most people visit a doctor’s office or a hospital, it is expected that a nurse or aide might enter the room and take a blood pressure reading, or use a thermometer to take a temperature reading. 
For most children and adults, this is not a painful or difficult experience. It is, in fact, routine.

Not so for someone with autism or other special needs.

McLaren Port Huron recently began implementing, hospital-wide, its new Levi’s Link program to improve the hospital experience for those patients by addressing how care is delivered to adults and children with special needs.
 
McLaren Port Huron is the first hospital in the state of Michigan to develop such a full-scale program.

The roll out of the program is timely, as McLaren Port Huron and its Levi’s Link program recognize the month of April as World Autism Month, and, specifically, recognize April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day.

“What is ‘normal’ or ‘routine’ to most people, can cause great stress in someone with autism or other special needs,” said Kathleen McKenna, director of surgical services at McLaren Port Huron.  “But the more people are aware of that fact, the more comfortable the world can become for those who are challenged by autism or other special needs.”

The Levi’s Link program promotes individualized patient care for both adults and children with special needs. This begins during the pre-admission process. Special intake forms ask specific questions that will help hospital staff understand how to communicate with and care for the patient.
 
Education and information about the hospital visit will be available to the patient and their family beforehand, including a social story that illustrates the hospital visit, from arriving at the hospital through discharge.

Levi’s Link was developed at the request of Megan Wilson, the mother of a child with autism spectrum disorder, who wanted to improve the hospital experience for her son, Levi, and others with special needs. Wilson conducted some research and recommended that McLaren Port Huron model its program after a similar program in California.

To help fund the program, Wilson established a fund within the McLaren Port Huron Foundation, and she conducts a fun run each year to help grow the fund.

The 2019 Levi's Link 10K, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk will take place at Mid Michigan Materials gravel pit in Jeddo, Michigan. The gravel pit area will offer a challenging terrain and an exciting run.

For more information regarding the Levi’s Link program and resources at McLaren Port Huron, please visit: www.mclaren.org/phlevi.

For more information regarding World Autism Month or World Autism Awareness Day, visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-awareness-day.
 
For more information regarding the Levi’s Link 10K, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Jeddo/LevisLink5K10KandFunRun.