The Continuum of Care

Katie Sams was born with a cleft lip. Like most children with this and similar conditions, her case would typically require years of treatment and follow-up care. But fortunately, her burden was lessened with the help of a team of doctors in our Craniofacial Center (CFC). During what would become a life-changing experience for Katie and her family, our stellar CFC team was able to surgically repair Katie’s lip and relieve the heavy financial and physical toll they would have otherwise faced. The excellent care Katie received as a child inspired her decision to give back to others and is the reason she spent much of her career in the CFC at Chapel Hill.

“While my decision to work at the UNC CFC was directly related to the wonderful experience I had as a patient, I would actually go further and say my career was chosen based on my experience,” Katie said. “While having a medical condition that requires regular follow-up is very difficult for a child, I feel I owe a great debt to the CFC. My parents feel the same today.”

Every year, almost 7,000 children in the U.S. are born with a cleft lip or palate — making cleft abnormalities the most common birth defect in the country. Clefts and craniofacial conditions often come with other, complex health problems beyond the cosmetic, and the CFC addresses these issues through a unique interdisciplinary approach.

Our team care model brings together health-care practitioners from across the University campus to provide patients and their families with the best care through specialized services. In 2016, the CFC was honored with the William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation and Achievement, a national distinction in the dental field.

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