The 3E Team

Photo: Happy boy and girl blowing soap bubbles

At McMaster Children's Hospital, we are great believers in kids being healthy.

Through the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Programme, we encourage patients to aim for feeling really well — rather than settling for "so so."

We are proud to be able to offer a "menu" of treatment options that can be tailored to each patient, and provide an opportunity for much better quality of life.

We encourage our patients to view life as a team sport that involves a "home team" (parents, family, friends) and "coaching staff" (doctors, nurses, dietitians, child life specialists, and social workers). Together we form an alliance to achieve the best possible results and quality of life.

Dr. Robert Issenman and the Pediatric IBD Team, McMaster Children's Hospital

The 3E Pediatric IBD "Coaching" Team

Photo: Dr. Issenman and his 3E team

The "front line" staff involved in the pediatric IBD clinic have a special interest and expertise in children and youth with IBD. Team members include:

  • physicians and nurses, including the Nurse Coordinator, specialized in the field of gastroenterology
  • child life specialists
  • dietitians
  • social workers
  • business clerks

Photo: Christine Radoja, Nurse Coordinator

The Nurse Coordinator

Experience has clearly shown that communication between all team members (the "home team" and the "coaching staff") is key to the success of our program and to the health of our patients. To make sure that patient care is the best that it can be, the Nurse Coordinator acts as the "team captain" and the link between patients, families, and other programme staff.

The Nurse Coordinator:

  • helps educate the patient and family
  • organizes each patient's plan of care
  • monitors patients between their clinic visits
  • collaborates with team members to track patient progress
  • advocates for the patient and family
  • helps conduct research about pediatric IBD
  • supports the "graduation"" of pediatric IBD patients to the Adult GI Service, after their 18th birthday



Photo: ______________, Dietitian

Nutrition is especially important to growing children and teens.

To ensure that our patients eat foods they like and meet their body's nutritional needs, the clinic dietitian works with our patients and their families.

Nutritional issues for IBD patients are discussed in the nutrition section.

Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialists work with our younger patients, as well as with children and teens who are having a difficult time coping with their illness.

A Child Life Specialist provides psychosocial care to children and youth by helping them:

  • understand and prepare for tests and procedures
  • develop strategies to relax and to cope with stress or pain
  • express their emotions
  • follow treatment recommendations
  • develop strategies to manage behaviours

Photo: Shannon, Child Life Specialist

A Child Life Specialist can, as needed:

  • meet with patients at the time of diagnosis to assess their initial understanding and coping, then be available for follow-up on an ongoing basis
  • provide age-appropriate teaching about IBD, and help patients voice their questions and concerns about their diagnosis
  • help patients learn how to swallow pills
  • meet with patients during their clinic appointments, or (if a Specialist is available) provide support during appointments outside of regular visits
  • help patients develop strategies to cope and to advocate for themselves at school
  • arrange peer support opportunities

Because Child Life Specialists work with inpatients as well as outpatients, they are available to help pediatric IBD patients when they need inpatient care at Mac Kids.

Social Workers

Photo: Susan, Social Worker

Having a child or teen diagnosed with IBD can be a stressful and challenging experience for the whole family.

Social workers help patients and their families cope with the practical and emotional concerns that accompany this diagnosis. Social workers play an important role in the IBD clinic and believe in building on the strengths of each patient and family. They work with the rest of the IBD team to ensure that the patient and family reach their full potential.

Our clinic social workers get to meet most patients and families, and take the time needed to find out more about each patient, about what concerns them, and what matters most to them. Although this information can be kept private, if the patient wishes, sharing their worries with others may be a big step in patients getting better.

In addition to being great listeners, social workers are also great counsellors and problem solvers. They can help identify and develop ways to cope with difficulties, and to maintain healthy supportive relationships. They can also identify resources in the community, and provide support with education or school-related issues.

As with all members of the IBD team, our social workers are sometimes involved in research projects aimed at improving the quality of life for all our young patients.