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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

June 22, 2001 Contact: Carol Mattar (312) 996-1583; cmattar@uic.edu


People with sickle cell disease will receive holistic care that goes beyond treatment of the disease and its symptoms at the new sickle disease center planned for the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.

The comprehensive center will treat children and adults and will have research and clinical components. It will also address social issues affecting patients and their families, such as jobs and insurance.

The new center is made possible by a $1.9 million grant announced today by the state of Illinois.

UIC has long had sickle cell clinics, but the comprehensive center will be unique in two ways. It will consolidate and expand services, bringing together physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors and researchers, and it will provide care for both children and adults.

Through Medicaid and similar programs, children with sickle cell disease generally have access to care at pediatric hematology clinics such as UIC's, according to Dr. Richard Labotka, director of the pediatric sickle cell clinic and head of the section of pediatric hematology/oncology at UIC.

"But a lot of adults with sickle cell disease fall through the cracks," he says. "As medical care has improved, they may no longer be sick enough to be on disability but they may not be insurable at work."

Those are the kind of issues the center's counseling and educational programs and community outreach will address.

The comprehensive services provided by a team of professionals also aim to ease patients' symptoms, ultimately allowing them to stay in school or jobs.

"This is a disease with a lot of chronic illness and disability," Labotka says. "Pain is one of the major symptoms, and many patients need frequent medical care. For some patients, pain is a very difficult symptom to manage. Often, they end up in emergency rooms.

"Our hope is to improve and expand services to people with sickle cell disease, both children and adults," Labotka says. "We plan to provide support through counseling and education to patients, families and the community and to conduct research that will improve care for patients with sickle cell disease. We will also reach out to the local medical community through continuing education, development of treatment guidelines and consultations to physicians."

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