The Staging Transition for Every Patient (STEP) program helps young adults with complex and chronic health conditions transfer from pediatric care at Children’s of Alabama hospital to adult care at UAB Medicine. Many people with serious health conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and sickle cell disease are now living well into adulthood due to advances in treatment. The STEP program started in September 2020 to help with the transition to adult care, which can be difficult for both patients and their families due to medical and insurance changes. UAB Medicine’s STEP Program is the first formal program of its kind in Alabama and the surrounding region.
The STEP program includes a primary care clinic for patients age 18 and older that provides medical care, referrals to specialists, and an individualized transition plan for each patient and family. The goal is to prevent interruptions in medical care and provide support services – such as physical therapy, social workers, nutrition, counseling, and emergency planning – within a single primary care setting.
The program also works with adolescent patients age 14 and older at Children’s of Alabama, to begin preparing them for adult health care. This preparation is designed to help patients and their families set health priorities, establish goals, and become more independent. We are committed to assisting with this transfer process, and we work with patients to help them develop the skills needed to take responsibility for their own health when they become adults. This includes learning how to make appointments, get medications from the pharmacy, build independence, and much more. The program also works with adolescent patients and their families to help determine when to transfer to adult care, which usually is age 18-21.
In the state of Alabama, youths legally become adults at age 19, and at that point we cannot discuss the patient’s personal health information with family members without his/her consent. However, we understand and respect that many young adult patients choose to continue involving their families in health care decisions. If the patient’s condition prevents him/her from making health care decisions, we encourage parents/caregivers to consider options for supported decision-making (i.e. guardianship) prior to the patient turning 19. We will discuss this in detail during your clinic visit.
We look forward to working with you to assist with any care transition needs.
If your child is 18 or older and ready for the STEP program, please call 205.801.7474 to request a clinic appointment with Dr. Carlie Stein Somerville.