Valley Children's supporting young adults with medical needs

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Kids who need healthcare can see a pediatrician.

But as they grow up, they'll need to know how to make their own medical decisions.

Our Children First sponsor -- Valley Children's Healthcare -- is creating a clinic to help young adults make that important transition.

Action News anchor Warren Armstrong has more on the new clinic.

RELATED: ABC30 half-hour special focuses on transition to adulthood

The halls of Valley Children's Hospital are familiar for 25-year-old Rachael Goldring.

"When there's an emergency problem, I always come here. They know me here they know how to treat me here I'm very comfortable here."

Rachael was born with congenital heart disease and grew up dealing with the painful effects of the diagnosis.

"I just had a 3D MRI and they showed my heart is extremely strong so that's not even my problem anymore now it's just my lungs."

As she grew older she struggled with pulmonary hypertension, COPD, and other medical conditions. Finding an adult care provider who understands Rachel's history and health needs wasn't easy.

"I was sitting there with 80-year-olds who have smoked, 80-year-olds who have done it to themselves, I was sitting there... I grew up in a children's hospital I mean it was very different, it was a rude awakening."

Valley Children's is launching a new young adult and transitional care program this spring to help meet the needs of patients like Rachael.

"The statistics say around this period, between late teens and adulthood, disease control goes down, appointments fall out, and needs are not met as well," said Dr. Patrick Burke who's focus is on young adult transitional care.

Rachael will be among the first group with congenital heart disease to seek help at the clinic. A licensed clinical social worker will be on staff to help with challenges like choosing appropriate insurance or finding an adult care provider.

Dr. Burke says kids with congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, and cancer are living longer and will be helped at the clinic.

"Cystic fibrosis used to be like pediatric cancer, like pediatric heart disease. They used to be death sentences. Now there are more individuals, who are adults, with cystic fibrosis, than children. There are more adults with congenital heart disease then there are children."

Dr. Burke says one of the goals is to educate adult care doctors.

"What we aim to do at Valley Children's, under the banner of leadership, is to take a proactive approach of reaching out to those physicians, reaching out to those hospitals, and say 'let us help you develop that expertise'."

While growing up with a broken heart, Rachael still found time to be a kid, supporting local causes with her family, including Valley Children's. She's now an advocate for others who face similar health issues.

"Fighting is hard. Fighting for your life every single day, it is hard. But I always say if I can help one person, and now that Valley Children's Hospital is understanding the bigger picture, I'm excited."

And that heart is full of love. Rachael was married last October. A day she thought would never come. But she knows their future is worth fighting for!

ABC30 thanks its partners below for putting Children First in the Central Valley.

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