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Aimee James explains the process of becoming a new patient at Shriners Children's Portland.

How to Become a Patient at the Portland Shriners Hospital

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Melanie Cole, MS (Host): Welcome to Healing Heroes PDS, the podcast series from the specialists at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland. I'm Melanie Cole, and I invite you to listen in as we discuss how to become a patient at the Portland Shriners Hospital. Joining me is Aimee James. She’s a new patient coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland. Aimee, I'm so glad to have you with us today. Thank you so much for joining us. You're one of the main contacts for all new patients and families. When a person calls to inquire information about the hospital, how do you determine that they could benefit from the care provided at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland, and what does that process of becoming a patient look like?

Aimee James (Guest): So we make it really easy here at Shriners Hospital in Portland. A family can self-refer, or they can be referred by their physician or another care provider, even a friend. We get basic demographic information from the family, but in that conversation, we’re also obtaining from them what it is that they would like us to evaluate. So whether it be flat feet, maybe their child’s feet turn in, perhaps they have more complex conditions such as cerebral palsy, scoliosis, etcetera. We are listening to what their needs are and how we can best meet them.

Host: Well, the Portland Shriners Hospital is obviously unique in the fact that you offer comprehensive care all under one roof including rehabilitation services, a state of the art motion analysis center which is so very cool, orthotics, prosthetics, and so much more. How does a patient get access to those comprehensive wraparound services offered onsite at the hospital?

Aimee: Yes. So once you become a patient here with us, you have access to all of those wraparound services. What we’re listening for when you give us a call is is that condition appropriate for us? Then how can we best meet your needs? So sometimes families give us a call and they’re really interested in maybe obtaining a brace from our brace shop. So what we’ll do is pair them with a physician that’s appropriate for their child’s condition. Then from there, they can possibly be molded and measured for a brace if it is appropriate for their condition that day, or they may come back to see us another day for another test with our motion analysis lab or with rehab if that’s appropriate.

Host: Well then what should families expect when they arrive at the hospital for their first appointment, Aimee. How do you ensure this process is as smooth as possible?

Aimee: So like I mentioned before, we’re really listening in on a lot of cues in that first conversation with the family. We understand that we are in a unique position to provide care to families coming all the way from Alaska, Montana, Idaho, northern California. So it’s not just the Portland metro area that we serve. So we’re listening for things like, “I'm taking time off of work for this appointment. I'm bringing in other family members to help care for my other children.” So we want to make it right the first time. We’re listening to you as far as this is what we’re looking for in a physician, this is what we’re hoping that you’ll be able to help us with. So we pair you with the correct physician hopefully the first time we get it right to make your visit that much more enjoyable. Perhaps you mention to us that your child is fearful of a hospital setting. So that will give us the opportunity to talk to you about our child life specialist. They are our colleagues here who are specially trained in techniques in playful care so that maybe a blood draw turns into an enjoyable situation instead of a fearful situation. That time with the physician they look forward to it versus they’re scared of it. All of our staff here at Shriners are trained in pediatrics. So we’re all definitely on the same page as far as making in the most enjoyable experience for the family.

Host: Well, Aimee, as a parent I know how scary it can be to take your child to the hospital the first time or the tenth time. Many families take into consideration whether a hospital or care facility is in network with their insurance plan when it comes to selecting that place to receive care. So among all of the things everybody worries about, insurance is certainly a big one. What information do you give families who may be struggling to find a care facility that meets their financial needs?

Aimee: That’s the great thing about Shriners. That’s one of the things I like most about my role is that I get to tell families they don’t have to worry about that piece. Shriners does accept all major insurance plans, but it’s also not a barrier to becoming a patient here at Shriners Hospital in Portland. We have financial counselors that will work with families regarding their financial needs whatever their situation may be. So they never have to worry about whether they have insurance or what type of insurance. We will care for their child regardless of that.

Host: Well right now in these unprecedented times. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. I'm sure many patients and families are apprehensive about visiting medical facilities during this time. Aimee tell us about the options for patients and families who may feel unsafe to make the trip to the hospital. How are you utilizing telehealth? What would you like them to know about what Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland is doing to keep the visitors safe and the community at large?

Aimee: Sure. So while some conditions do require that they come in person, we do want to assure families that we have worked diligently to keep our facility clean and safe and an environment in which they can be safe in. We’ve implemented protocols and temperature checks, screening questions for individuals entering the building for both staff and visitors alike. We’ve limited the number of people coming into the building so that we can provide the most care possible in person when needed. We’ve also of course implemented the fast track video visits also known as telehealth visits. We have those reviewed by our physicians if a family feels that is more appropriate for them. So that decision is being made by our physicians as far as what is appropriate and what needs to come in person.

Host: To wrap it up Aimee how does the Portland Shriners Hospitals foster an environment that makes the patient and the family feel at ease.

Aimee: We make sure to let families know to carve a couple of hours out of their day. I know that sounds long and grueling, but because we have so many options under one roof and we have not yet met their child, we don’t know if the physician’s going to order more imaging. If they’re going to be meeting with our rehab staff, with our prosthetics and orthotics lab, if a brace is indicated for their condition. Perhaps they need to meet with one of our other staff which is a child psychologist who’s joined us now. We really have a lot of options. Again, the whole building is centered around pediatrics and pediatric family care. We also have a walk-in fracture clinic where families don’t even need to give us a call. They can simply walk-in Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 4:00 p.m. That service, again, is for fractures and injuries. Although we are in the middle of a pandemic, kids are still active, and some are still playing sports. So we are still here for them in that sense. We have kept that open through everything.

Host: Thank you so much Aimee. What a comprehensive approach. Thank you for joining us and telling families what the Portland Shriners Hospitals is doing to keep the families safe that do need to come in and really what’s involved in becoming a new patient. You can also call new patient scheduling department at 503-221-3422 to get setup with an appointment, or you can visit us online at That concludes this episode of Healing Heroes PDS with the Portland Shriners Hospital. Please remember to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. For more health tips and updates, please follow us on your social channels. I'm Melanie Cole.

About The Speakers

Aimee James

Aimee James has been connected with Shriners Children's Portland almost her entire life. She is a third-generation employee following in the footsteps of her grandmother who worked at the hospital for 35 years, and her mother who was an employee for 41 years. She herself has been an employee of the hospital for 18 years, and at one point all three of the women were working together at the Portland Shriners Hospital. She has worked in various roles at the hospital which has given her a very well-rounded education of the patient experience from start to finish.

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