The Medical Home

By Dr. Mary McAteer

Spirit & Place allows our community to explore one yearly theme through a variety of lenses. With this year’s theme being “home,” The Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics would like to take the opportunity to educate families about an aspect of home they might not be familiar with: the medical home.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents should be accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective. It should be delivered or directed by well-trained physicians who provide primary care and help to manage and facilitate all aspects of pediatric care. The physician should be known to the child and family, and should be able to develop a partnership of mutual responsibility and trust with them. These characteristics define the “medical home,” and stand in contrast to care provided through emergency departments, walk-in clinics, and other urgent-care facilities. Though such care is sometimes necessary, it is more costly and often less effective.

A medical home is not just a building or place – it extends beyond the walls of a clinical practice. A medical home builds partnerships with clinical specialists, families, and community resources. The medical home recognizes the family as a constant in a child’s life, and emphasizes partnership between health care professionals and families. A medical home is where everyone in the office knows your name when you call, welcomes you, and encourages your input. It is a place where your family’s priorities and traditions will be respected, and your child is able to express his feelings, even when it takes time. Further, if needed, a medical home helps you get connected to other health care professionals or community resources and stays with you through the journey.

strong kid

When you have the healthiest child on your block and your family is humming along in wellness, your medical home can help you with routine health screenings, safety information and sports physicals. There are many sources of information that are confusing and may not be rooted in solid science, and your doctor can help put new or controversial information into perspective. When a child goes to school and is not functioning in a given area, your doctor can help narrow down the concern and chart a course to assist you. If a tragedy befalls a family member, or a tragedy within the community hits a child especially hard, having a trusted professional to talk to may offer valuable support.

Where this model shines the brightest is with our children who have special health care needs. When a child receives care through multiple providers, or has more complex needs at school or at home, a medical home that provides a central location and oversight for all the child’s health needs and information can be a valuable asset. The concept of the medical home introduces a pediatrician’s voice into the conversation, and fosters relationships that allow a doctor to help advocate that while a child may need a special form of care, he or she is still capable of succeeding socially and academically.

Many people consider their home a place of comfort and security – a place where they can be open and honest and not feel threatened. That feeling should extend to your family’s doctor’s office. It should be a place you feel safe and secure, and a place where you feel comfortable enough to talk about anything that might be affecting the health of your family. A medical home, where you can establish a lifelong relationship with a team of care providers, is the ideal place to find this atmosphere.

INAAP is an organization of over 800 pediatricians throughout Indiana who are committed to improving children’s health through collaborating with each other, advocating for health care policies, and using dependable resources of science to disseminate good medical advice. We meet every month, discussing action items to improve children’s health care, writing articles, hosting medical meetings, and interfacing with lawmakers and other health policy experts. We work within the American Academy of Pediatrics, the originator of the medical home concept. For further resources, check out, or contact our Executive Director, Chris Weintraut at









Tiny Homes – Big Futures

By Teresa Mankin

Every night in this country, thousands of veterans are sleeping on the very streets that they once swore to protect. Of the over 600,000 homeless people in our country, more than 60,000 have served in the armed forces. Homelessness is a devastating problem in this country, but the fact that many are veterans who once served their country is a tragedy.

Valiant Seed is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 2015 by two Army veterans, run by volunteers who are also veterans. Regardless of the reasons behind it, homelessness affects our communities and its effects grow more serious the longer a person is homeless. People who fought for our freedom deserve a safe space, privacy, dignity, and access to medical, mental health, occupational and other kinds of care. This is our mission.

By building tiny houses in small, sustainable communities, Valiant Seed hopes to create a new model for solving this problem. We hope to help those veterans who have somehow fallen through the cracks and who are less likely to be successful in a traditional program.


Until veterans have safe, affordable, stable housing, they can’t tackle other problems they may be facing, such as medical disability, mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment or relationship issues. That safe space that respects the veteran’s free will to choose the type and amount of help they receive is key to our mission.

Our tiny houses – about 400 square feet – will be totally off-grid to help manage limited incomes. We will employ pioneering technologies like solar electricity, LED lighting, water catchment, passive solar heating and cooling, and a composting toilet in every unit.

Our long term plans include community gardens to both feed residents and provide opportunities for micro enterprise. The sense of purpose and urgency we have felt in making Valiant Seed a reality has reinforced the idea that making sure our residents have a sense of accomplishment or purpose is paramount.

Our first communities will be built in Indiana and Oregon – our home states – and then, we hope, around the country. We believe in this model, we believe in our brothers and sisters, we believe in the communities where we want to build; and it is our fervent hope that there are people out there who will believe in us.

For more information, please visit, or find us on Facebook or Twitter @valiantseed.

Teresa Mankin is co-founder of Valiant Seed and a native Hoosier. She is very interested in affordable and sustainable housing. In her day job, she works as a property manager. She is also a single mom, avid reader, NCIS addict and Colts fan. She and her 17 year old son live in Plainfield.