For the rest of 2021, the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association will hold its Hope Campaign, a fundraiser that fosters support for health care professionals and hope for patients.
According to the ACPA, continuing medical education and research efforts are paramount to ensure patients receive the best possible care and to equip young professionals for the care of tomorrow. Through fundraisers like the Hope Campaign, the association is able to provide reassurance to families beginning their cleft or craniofacial journey, connect families to an ACPA-approved team close to their home, and equip professionals with the tools and information they need.
Among those featured in the campaign is Krystal Oestreich, a nurse practitioner at Augusta University Health. She was interviewed about her child, who was born with a cleft lip, and how her family’s experience drove her to work in pediatric otolaryngology as a part of the Cleft and Craniofacial team at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
“At our 20-week anatomy scan we learned our son, Reid, would be born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. When you receive a diagnosis like this about your baby, it is the most out-of-control feeling a parent can experience,” Oestreich said.
“When I discovered ACPA’s educational publications and stories shared by other parents about their journeys, it helped put our minds at ease. These online resources were so helpful, and the information gave us a sense of control. Although I couldn’t control his cleft, I was equipped with the information we needed,” she said.
Through ACPA’s website, the family was able to locate an ACPA-approved cleft and craniofacial team. Their first appointment was with Dr. Jack Yu while Oestreich was still pregnant.
“He walked us through a timeline of what to expect with care and surgeries. He answered all our questions and helped us feel prepared for the arrival of our son,” said Oestreich.
Reid was born with a bilateral cleft lip and alveolar gum notch, but his palate was intact. Even so, Reid was not able to breastfeed.
“The team helped us learn how to feed him with specialty bottles since he was unable to produce suction. We are so thankful for the team at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. They have always tailored his care to what has been best for him. Reid is now 5 years old and has undergone four surgical procedures to date. While he has a long road ahead, I know the team will be there every step of the way,” said Oestreich.
After Reid was born, Oestreich knew her calling was to help other parents and children, so she changed her degree focus and in 2018 became a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. She joined the department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital of Georgia at Augusta University, where Reid has had all his surgeries, and took on the role of co-team coordinator for the cleft and craniofacial team.
“The same ACPA resources that helped prepare us for our son’s birth are the same resources I now share with my patients and their families,” she said.
“As a young professional in the cleft and craniofacial field, I’ve thrived as a clinician by having a community of providers, fellow ACPA members, really collaborate and share knowledge in improving techniques and processes for the best outcomes for patients. The educational opportunities ACPA offers to professionals has allowed me to continue to learn and has been crucial in providing my patients the absolute best care.
“The greatest joy of my professional career has been walking with other children and parents through their cleft journey.”