Aug. 9, 2023 | iCare Newsletter
by Bullseye Media

Putting Their Best Face Forward

There is a simple reason R.O. and Nancy Robertson created the new endowment to solidify the future of the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic at Hoops Family Children’s Hospital (HFCH) at Cabell Huntington Hospital. They had a desire to enhance quality of life for children in our region.

“I’ve seen youngsters who have this problem and what they go through,” said R.O. Robinson, who while in business had two employees forced to drive long distances to get cleft palate treatment for their children. “If you don’t want to help them, you don’t have a heart.”

The clinic has been under development since 2015. That’s when Peter Ray, M.D. moved to Huntington after 20 years with the University of Alabama Health System, where he completed plastic surgery training. Today, the HFCH Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic’s registry has more than 80 patients.

“I was struck by the sheer magic of transformation that is possible in this field and how life-changing the procedures are,” said Dr. Ray said.

Every year, about one in every 1,600 babies in the U.S. is born with cleft lip with cleft palate. About one in every 2,800 is born with cleft lip without cleft palate, and about one in every 1,700 is born with cleft palate. One in every 2,500 is born with craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the bones in the skull join together too early.

Translating those numbers to a seven-county area of the Tri-State region means that annually two to three babies in the HFCH service area are born with cleft lip/palate and one to two with craniosynostosis.

In addition to treating patients with these conditions, the clinic manages non-surgical conditions, such as babies with tongue ties or ear deformities.

Surgeries are also handled by Scott Gibbs, M.D. and Adam Van Horn, M.D., and other specialists and support personnel, bringing the team to nearly a dozen.

“The Robertsons’ endowment is vital since developing a team through education and other support is critical to developing a craniofacial clinic,” Dr. Ray said.  “The majority of patients are on public insurance, which means an ongoing balancing act to get children treatment within economic constraints.”

But he said it’s all worth it. “Every child deserves the chance to put their best face forward.”


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