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Ear, Nose & Throat Expertise

Director of Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic at UH Rainbow touts its team approach to care

UH Clinical Update - February 2018

Children with complex airway, swallowing and breathing issues have a valuable multidisciplinary resource in the Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“Often times, there are conditions such as reflux, bronchitis and upper airway issues that all go together,” says Jay Shah, MD, a UH Rainbow pediatric otolaryngologist who directs the clinic. “We believe in a unified airway where disorders of the lungs, esophagus, stomach, and throat all can contribute to a child’s particular medical problem.”

Now in its second year, the Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic at UH Rainbow relies on the expertise of specialists from otolaryngology, gastroenterology/nutrition, pulmonology, pediatric surgery, occupational therapy and speech therapy. When cases warrant, the clinic also coordinates access to experts in anesthesiology/sedation, cardiology, critical care, respiratory therapy and sleep medicine.

In just two years, the Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic at UH Rainbow has experienced rapid growth. From 2016 to 2017, for example, the average number of patient visits each month increased by nearly five-fold. At the same time, quality metrics and patient experience evaluations have remained high.

“Our continued success is due to excellent teamwork across many specialties, improved organization and overall compassion for treating these medically complex children,” says Dr. Shah. He also points to the important roles played by the UH senior leaders who have supported the clinic and the patient navigator who simplifies what can be a challenging and often-complicated care path for patients and their families.
In addition to his work with the Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic, Dr. Shah sees patients in his pediatric otolaryngology practice at main campus and UH Westlake Health Center. He says he enjoys the challenge of serving both the child and his or her caregivers.

“I have the privilege of taking care of people’s children,” he says. “I really focus on engaging the patient. Once I engage the patient and understand what’s going on, then I discuss it with the caregiver.”

One important aspect of Dr. Shah’s practice is deciding how to treat kids who snore or have mild sleep-disordered breathing. Fortunately, these patients at UH Rainbow have the opportunity to participate in the PATS (Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy Trial for Snoring) trial. Patients age 3 to 13 enrolled in the study are randomly assigned to early removal of tonsils and adenoids or watchful waiting and supportive care for 12 months.
“It’s common that we take tonsils out with kids who snore, but we’re really looking at many different factors – cognitive effects of snoring, psychological effects of snoring, looking at the child who snores as a whole and the role of tonsillectomy within that,” Dr. Shah says.

Dr. Shah earned his medical degree at Rush Medical College of Rush University. He completed his residency training in otolaryngology at UH Cleveland Medical Center, followed by fellowship training in pediatric otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, affiliated with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

When the opportunity came to return to UH, Dr. Shah says he didn’t hesitate.

“This was a great opportunity to return back to where I trained,” he says. “I really enjoyed being at Rainbow and the camaraderie at Rainbow.”

If you have a patient who could benefit from the Pediatric Aerodigestive Clinic at UH Rainbow, please contact Clinic Coordinator For more information about the PATS trial, please email