Mission & History

Celebrating 78 Years!

Dr. H. K. Cooper with a patient

Dr. H. K. Cooper with a patient

The Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of infants, children and adults with craniofacial conditions resulting from birth defects, trauma and disease.

Established in 1938, the nonprofit Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic is the oldest clinic in the world devoted to the comprehensive care of children born with cleft lips and palates and other craniofacial anomalies regardless of their ability to pay. It was founded by the orthodontist Dr. Herbert K. Cooper on the first floor of his home at 24 N. Lime Street. At that time the Clinic offered out of town cleft patients a 6 week residency program. Several cleft patients stayed in apartments, supervised by a house mother, and received speech therapy, prosthesis fabrication, and social education.

For over 78 years we have provided for the special healthcare needs of Pennsylvania’s infants and children who may be uninsured, under-insured or otherwise under-served. Today, we are the only facility in the United States to offer comprehensive cleft care outside the auspices of a major hospital system.

Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic Today

Our signature multidisciplinary, single-facility approach – the first of its kind, was conceived by Dr. Cooper, who was the grandfather of our current Executive Director Dr. Ross E. Long. It brings all of our specialists – plastic surgeon, orthodontist, pediatrician, otolaryngologist, maxillofacial prosthodontist, speech therapist, audiologist, feeding specialist, psychologist, and social worker, among others – together to see each patient on the same day and collectively discuss their care both chair-side and in team conference settings.

We also provide educational observation and participatory experience in each of these specialties to medical and dental students, as well as to residents and visiting medical and dental professionals who are interested in learning more about cleft and craniofacial care.

The largest proportion of our patients come from Central Pennsylvania. Our current patient pool includes patients from thirty-six different counties. We are currently treating more than two thousand infants, children and adults with cleft lip/palate and other acquired anomalies.