Albany Medical Center’s New Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic Offers One-Stop Coordinated Care Approach

At 19 months old, Colton Rogers-Bump, of Troy, has spent more than three-quarters of his young life in the hospital. The toddler has experienced frequent severe respiratory distress requiring stays in Albany Medical Center’s Pediatric ICU nearly every two weeks. In one terrifying instance, his mother, Julia Coon, recalled frantically rushing her son to The Massry Family Children’s Emergency Center after he turned purple from a coughing fit late at night.

When Albany Medical Center opened a new Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic, Coon and Colton’s father, Joshua Bump, were advised to bring their son in for a work-up.

At the first visit, Lara Reichert, MD, MPH, pediatric otolaryngologist and clinic director, diagnosed Colton with a laryngeal cleft, a rare congenital abnormality that creates an opening between the larynx and the esophagus, which in turn can cause food and liquid to enter the airway tube with each swallow.

In early April, Dr. Reichert surgically repaired the laryngeal cleft and removed his chronically irritated adenoids. Gastroenterologist Nikki Allmendinger, MD, also evaluated his gastrointestinal tract, as Colton suffers from food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) with frequent GI issues.

Colton’s parents said the results have been immediate and dramatic. “Already we’ve seen a big improvement,” said Coon, noting that her son no longer needs supplemental oxygen, is gaining weight and is full of energy. “If it wasn’t for this clinic, I don’t know what we would have done.”

Established this past January, the clinic is a collaborative effort comprised of pediatric specialists in Pulmonology, Gastroenterology, Otolaryngology, Surgery and Speech/Language Pathology. Every second Wednesday of the month providers see patients at the pediatric offices on 50 New Scotland Ave. They treat disorders of the upper and lower airways and digestive system, ranging from chronic respiratory disease to tracheostomy and feeding tube-dependent children to those with congenital anomalies like Colton.

Coon said bringing her son to see multiple specialists during one visit is particularly valuable, considering they had been coming to Albany four times a week.

Dr. Reichert said parents find this “real-time care coordination” helpful in that they don’t need to repeatedly explain their children’s medical issues to several doctors during multiple visits. The approach appeals to families so much that the clinic sees patients from as far away as Syracuse, Vermont and New Hampshire. One family that recently moved to South Carolina still returns regularly to have their 16-year-old seen.

Dr. Reichert said the goal is “to optimize care and generate the best patient outcomes.” The clinic also boasts the ability to make same-day radiological appointments and offer flexible operating room time frames should the need arise. For Colton, the ENT and GI teams we able to coordinate a combined operative evaluation so he did not need to undergo multiple anesthetics.

As for Colton, he’s now back to being a typical toddler – curiously exploring his surroundings, watching Baby Shark cartoons and bugging his two older brothers.