Mary Ehlenbach, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is the inaugural winner of the Paster Family Foundation Innovation Award.

Her project, the Pediatric Complex Care Program at UW Health-American Family Children’s Hospital, is a new model of care for children with who have medical care that involves more than one health condition, referred to as children with medical complexities, or CMC.

With the support of UW Health and Department of Pediatrics leadership, Ehlenbach assembled an interprofessional team that collectively addresses the medical and social needs of CMC served at the children’s hospital. The group of pediatricians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, care coordination assistants, nutritionists, a pharmacist, an administrative program manager and a social worker participate in the care patients receive when admitted to the hospital, in clinic or – most importantly – living at home and participating in the community.

In collaboration with the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Special Needs Program, Ehlenbach was the UW lead on a multi-year quality improvement innovation project that culminated in the development of a robust complex care program at UW Health-American Family Children’s Hospital and a novel source of sustainable funding from Wisconsin Medicaid.

The Pediatric Complex Care Program at UW Health-American Family Children’s Hospital has improved the health and touched the lives of over 300 children with medical complexity since its inception in 2014. Over the last four years twenty staff members have been recruited, hired, and trained.

For her innovative idea, Ehlenbach will receive $5,000.