Now, federal officials are watching a new children's clinic to see if the fast access it gives to a child's doctors, can keep these fragile children out of the hospital.
Little Sh'mari has a genetic disorder that causes her to get very sick, very fast. Two years ago, she was in the hospital 11 times.
Last year, it was once. The difference? She goes to the new UTHealth High Risk Children's Clinic. And now her mom can get a hold of her doctor 24/7.
"Being able to get in touch with someone right away, not having to wait weeks for an appointment, being seen by someone that actually knows her history and knows the best thing to do to take care of her," said her mother, Memie Stewart.
"The same people, the same providers who take care of the patients during the daytime, they take care of them at night -- 24/7. They have our cell phone number," Dr. Ricardo Mosquera said.
UTHealth and the state of Texas started the clinic for children with chronic health problems last year. Now it's received a $3.7 million federal grant to see if this style of medicine keeps kids healthier. They think it does, that it will save a million dollars a year. Why? In part because all of a child's specialists talk to each other.
"We don't refer them to the pulmonary doctor and wait three months to get an appointment because we know how to manage vents. The child that needs a neurology appointment, well we have the neurologist here," Dr. Susan Pacheco said.
The entire medical staff knows each children and understands their complex medical problems.
The UTHealth High Risk Children's Clinic is open and available for other Houston children like Sh'mari. If it works as well as it has the first year, they hope clinics like it will open around the country.
UTHealth High Risk Children's Clinic
Houston TX 77030
Call 832-325-7300 for appointments