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PPEC: Caring for Medically Fragile Children

Children's Health
Author name: Lee Health


PCEC care photo

If a parent’s child is medically fragile, that means their child has a complex medical need that requires daily care. Some children are fed by a gastrostomy tube, have a tracheotomy tube, or are on oxygen therapy.

Others may have a seizure disorder that requires supervision.

Usually, a specially trained pediatric nurse provides this care in the home. But some parents are finding it increasingly difficult to find home health services for their children due to Southwest Florida’s unprecedented growth, which has caused a nursing shortage.

And for any parent with a medically fragile child, placing them at a typical daycare center isn’t the answer. 

“Finding quality child medical care can be overwhelming for many parents of children with complex medical needs,” says Tracy Filla, R.N., CPN, with Lee Health’s Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “For many parents, leaving their job to care for their child can have devastating financial implications. For that reason and many others, The Golisano Children's Hospital Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Center (PPEC) can be a lifeline for many families.”

Read on as Tracy answers our questions and explains how Golisano Children’s Hospital PPEC gives children with complex medical conditions quality medical care when home health nursing is unavailable, when home nursing is unavailable, or having a nurse in the home doesn’t meet the family’s needs.

Q: What is PPEC?

A: PPEC, or Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care, is any state-licensed, non-residential, day treatment program prescribed by a physician for medically fragile children or children who depend on technology to sustain their lives.

At our PPEC, specifically trained pediatric nursing staff help children with complex healthcare needs such as:

  1. Medications
  2. Venous catheter care
  3. Enteral-tube feedings
  4. Oxygen therapy
  5. Ostomy care
  6. Indwelling urinary catheter care
  7. Wound care
  8. Mechanical ventilator management
  9. Pulse oximeters

Q: Is PPEC a daycare?

A: Golisano Children's Hospital PPEC is a nursing center staffed with registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, aides and therapists with specific pediatric experience that focuses on serving a child's unique medical, developmental and social needs in the least restrictive environment possible.

Q: How much is PPEC, and is it covered by insurance?

A: PPEC centers allow Medicaid-eligible children with medically complex conditions to receive continual medical care in a non-residential setting. When approved, children up to 21 years of age can attend a PPEC for up to 12 hours a day and receive medical, therapeutic, social, nutritional, developmental, physiological and educational care, along with caregiver training.

Also, some commercial insurances cover PPEC.

Q: What are PPEC’s benefits?

Golisano Children's Hospital PPEC offers an array of services for children with special medical needs, including day healthcare, developmental planning and interventions, therapies and rehabilitation, case management, and parental support and education.

PPEC supports not only a child's medical and healthcare needs but also their social, educational and developmental needs to help them become independent within their community. The program also offers a child the benefits of socialization and peer stimulation while they receive medical and healthcare away from home. Eventually, we want them to become stable enough to transition into other community programs, such as typical daycare centers and public schools.

It’s freeing for parents, too, in many ways. A particularly valuable benefit is the program offers a dependable, safe option to supplement home care nursing for families that qualify. In other words, it can offer parents time away from providing care 24/7 to their child, so they can work, attend school, and have that occasional, restorative day off from being a caregiver.

Another key benefit is that PPEC credential nurses and nursing staff are trained to identify and treat acute illnesses or chronic conditions. This helps avoid potential acute healthcare conditions and possible hospitalization. We want to keep your child out of the hospital.

Q: How do I enroll my child in PPEC?

A: Call PPEC at (239) 343-6590 to schedule a tour and determine if your child qualifies.

You can also talk with your physician to initiate the process for admission to Golisano Children’s Hospital PPEC program.

Q: Say my child qualifies for PPEC at Golisano Children’s Hospital. How would they get there if a parent lacks a car or money for transportation, like a cab?

PPEC works with each patient’s insurance to provide buses that directly visit your home to pick up and drop off your child. These buses are staffed with trained PPEC team members who stay in contact with you during your child’s transport.

Also, you personally can pick up and drop off your child at PPEC.

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