Looking at the young man standing proudly in uniform between his father and brother, it would be easy to forget that Isaiah Shank, now a Fire Academy graduate and Adams County Junior Firefighter, was once a tiny baby with very serious medical needs.
Cindy Shank, Isaiah’s mother, was 20 weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Dean, received the news that their baby would be born with a cleft palate. When Isaiah was born, the Shanks were referred to Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic (LCPC) which was an hour away from them.
“He was born in Hershey, so we were confused why we had to come to Lancaster,” said Cindy, about the referral. “But we don’t have any regrets!”
Isaiah, now 15, had ten surgeries and seven years of speech therapy to bring him to the place he is today. His parents attribute his progress to the care of his medical team.
The first time the Shanks visited LCPC, Isaiah was two weeks old. They came to find the best bottle for him to use with the cleft. Isaiah was considered a moderate case, and care started immediately. His surgeries were at Hershey, but all of his follow-up care took place at LCPC.
“I like that we can go to one place for all of his facial and dental needs,” said Dean. “It makes for such a smooth process. Everyone is right there in the same place, and looking at the same chart for him.”
The Shanks attended Team Tuesdays twice a year at LCPC. They still come down once a year to see all of his specialists at once.
“Isaiah has an ENT doctor, an audiology doctor, an orthodontist,” said Cindy. “And he gets all his care done at LCPC, even dental cleanings.”
In the midst of the adjustments that come with caring for a child with a cleft palate, the Shanks were reassured by the variety of care that LCPC had available for Isaiah all in one place.
“It’s not an easy thing to hand your baby over for surgery. One surgery was five hours long,” Cindy remembered. “You have to be 100% comfortable with your medical staff. Everyone at LCPC was awesome and we felt confident that Isaiah was in the best of hands.”
Cindy and Dean deeply appreciated the time and the commitment that the staff invested into caring for Isaiah over the years.
“Dr. Rusty and Dr. Mackay really good,” said Cindy. “They took extra time explaining things to us.”
Isaiah’s care has been personalized particularly for him.
“He’s doing very well now and has not been in therapy anymore,” Cindy shared. “We’re coming to the end of all of the necessary cleft care.”
Isaiah reflected of the amount of care he received from LCPC and determined that, in his opinion, the best part about it was the speech therapy.
“When I started talking, I couldn’t make all the sounds,” said Isaiah. “But I’ve come a long way in my speech.”
The speech aspect has been of particular importance for Isaiah because he cherishes the ambition to become a firefighter. As a junior firefighter now in Adams County, he knows the importance of successful communication and the therapy has made a big impact.
“Communication is key,” he said.
The quantity and the quality of LCPC’s care for patients and families has lasting impacts on those that walk through their doors.
Cindy says when she thinks of the clinic staff, “They all became one big family to us.”