Staging Transition for Every Patient (STEP)
During childhood, parents and caregivers usually help children with their health and healthcare needs. As the patient gets older, managing those needs becomes more of the child’s own responsibility. To help patients gain independence, Children’s of Alabama uses an organized transition process and timeline. This process aims to help the patient learn self-supporting healthcare skills, to prepare them for an adult plan of care and to assist with an easier move to adult clinicians. At Children’s, we partner with the youth and their families to help make this transition safe, planned, and without an interruption in care.
The STEP Program consists of physicians from both Children’s and UAB who are committed to building the bridge of transition services across both health systems. Each division and department have dedicated transition champions who are working together to build successful strategies from the system level.
This two-part process first works to prepare individuals for transition and then transfer to a clinic where patients with disabilities and complex diseases can attend after they turn 18 years old. Keep in mind that the transition planning and preparation should begin much earlier than when the actual transfer of care will occur.
Through the transition process, our clinics work to help the child:
- understand their condition and treatments
- make appointments
- talk to doctors
- apply for resources
- complete medical and insurance forms
- keep track of medications
- and much more
Together, with your family, we want to build the child’s confidence and empower them to be independent and become their healthiest selves.
At Children’s, we work with all patients who have ongoing or complex medical conditions as they begin to think about adult life. In many clinics, this might look like providers talking directly to the patient. Providers may ask the parent to leave the room to help increase patient independence as they learn to make their own healthcare decisions.
Preparing for transition begins early in the teen years. We have various services available to help families become ready. The transition process typically begins through Children’s and the patient’s pediatric provider. Also, we partner with the following organizations that families can utilize for information and aid with various components of the process. In addition to healthcare, social aspects of life such as education, employment, and independent living are included. These organizations are:
- Children’s Harbor - the transition coordinator who can help with planning for school transition, preparing for college, assist with mental health needs, and aid in independence planning and training.
Contact: Amanda Turner 205-638-6602.
- Children’s Rehabilitation Services (CRS), Teen Transition Clinic - please reach out to your CRS care coordinator for more information.
When patients turn 18 years old, they can be seen at the UAB STEP Clinic that meets in the Whitaker Building to begin the process of changing from pediatric to adult care. The STEP team will ensure that specialists are identified for all their needs, and that care is not interrupted. Moving to adult healthcare should not be a sudden change, but a gradual shift. The transition will look different for each person and family depending on their abilities and needs.
Often, patients will continue to be seen by Children’s specialists until the actual transfer is complete. Transferring to adult providers allows the patient to receive age-appropriate care.
For patients needing more information about the STEP program, please contact:
Betsy Hopson, MSHA
STEP Program Director
Beth McGee, RN
STEP Program Nurse Coordinator
Carlie Stein Somerville, MD
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Medical Director of STEP Program
Madeline Eckenrode, MD
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
For referring physicians needing more information about the STEP program or to consult with UAB physicians and specialist, please contact:
Phillip Crain, MPA
STEP Program Navigator
500 22nd St S.
Birmingham, Alabama 35233
Fax Number: 205-801-5610