Just ask 12-year-old Evan Woodwick what his favorite thing is to do and his eyes light up when he talks about summer camping trips. He simply loves being able to enjoy the outdoors.
Camping has been a regular activity for the Woodwick family which includes mom and dad, Tammy and Corey, and two brothers, Charlie and Grant.
Life, as they knew it, changed dramatically on Aug. 1, 2015. Evan broke out in a rash, had a sore throat and spiked a fever. Over the course of the next week, he gradually couldn’t move his arms and legs. It was simply too painful to move. There were five emergency room visits in one week.
“It was really uncomfortable and I was so scared,” Evan explains. Throughout August and into the fall, Evan would spend time in Lakewood Hospital, St. Cloud Hospital and receive services from the Mayo System, Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. After a myriad of tests, Evan was diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA), also known as Still’s disease in adults. It has affected Evan with arthritis, but primarily his disease is systemic. Literature notes it as the rarest form of juvenile arthritis.
With the frequent trips to the ER and the complexity of his case, Evan’s provider, pediatrician Neil Bratney, M.D. suggested Evan’s care should be monitored through Lakewood’s Medical Home program, a progressive option to providing comprehensive care in an integrated, whole-person approach. Basically, it applies 21st-century technology to old-fashioned, personalized medical care.
Evan entered the Medical Home program in the fall of 2015. Tammy now has one main source to turn to when she has questions or there are flare-ups. The Medical Home staff coordinates all the care at Lakewood and with the specialists at other healthcare systems.
“It’s a huge comfort for me,” Tammy says. “I can feel so alone fighting for him – but with this system, I know I am NOT alone.”
The 2015-16 5th grade school year was tough for Evan; he missed 70 days of school. But since July 2016, Evan’s SJIA has been “borderline-controlled” with Ilaris, a powerful drug that is particularly effective with systemic auto-inflammatory diseases.
A lover of social studies, Evan is glad he only missed around 30 days of school this year. They have a wheelchair and walker if Evan needs to use those assistive devices, and his school’s administration and teachers have been very supportive.
“With Medical Home, it’s so nice to have just one source to turn to. I can call day or night,” Tammy says. “There’s no triaging and I am not put on hold. The ER trips dropped dramatically.”
Dr. Bratney echoes Tammy’s praises for this approach.
“The Medical Home staff coordinates all the subspecialty care. If we can manage Evan’s care right here in Staples, we do that,” Dr. Bratney says. “But if he needs to see a specialist in the Twin Cities, the staff can take care of coordinating the visits – and it goes both ways. The subspecialists at other provider locations have an easy resource right here. The RNs have a higher level of training on complex cases and that’s very beneficial for Evan.”
With the arrival of summer, Evan is enjoying those camping trips.
For Tammy, she’ll delight in having a little extra help around the house. “If he can mow the lawn, that is a victorious day.”
Learn more about Medical Home by visiting our Medical Home page or calling 218-894-8240 or 218-894-8241.