Letter to Cleft Families and Providers from Dr. Luis Cuadros

December 12, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Patients, and Providers,

For over 30 years I have had the great joy and privilege to care for patients with cleft lip and palate in New Mexico. Our first encounter was often with parents during pregnancy. This relationship would continue through a series of complex surgeries into the teenage years. Along with my dedicated team, we have traveled throughout the state providing support to all who needed our help.

You may remember fondly my office staff, Sue, Amanda, Terri, Joshuaa, Victoria, Kat and Kim. As well as our dedicated operating room team, Gwen and Laurie. SmileFest was an especially fun time thanks to Krista.

It has been so very rewarding and I hope that we have made some lasting good for the patients under my care. But now it’s time to move on and, as you may know, I am winding down my cleft practice.

I am referring all of my cleft patients to two very talented and dedicated surgeons at the University of New Mexico: Dr. Erica Bennett and Dr. Tania Kraai. I have been working closely with them over many years. I can assure you that your child will receive the highest standard of care possible. They have set up a truly excellent cleft palate clinic.
Please call the UNMH Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic (505) 272-4598 or (505) 272-2290 to set up an appointment with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Kraai as soon as possible. They hold bi-monthly comprehensive multi-specialty clinics and will be following the cleft child for the duration of the patient’s treatment. They will provide you with all the necessary cleft care and referrals needed.

UNM CLEFT AND CRANIOFACIAL CLINIC
Dr. Erica Bennett and Dr. Tania Kraai
7801 Academy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Camille Walker, RN – Cleft Palate Clinic coordinator
Phone (505) 272-4598 or (505) 272-2290

You may have already been contacted by a member of my staff. If you would like copies of your medical records please call, fax or email a request to us tel (505) 243-7670,
fax (505) 242-0510, info@cuadrosmd.com.

Various issues may remain depending on age, diagnosis and stage of treatment. Referrals may be needed for some or all of following specialties: Audiology, Speech Therapy, ENT (ears, nose, and throat), Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthodontics, Social Service.

Here are some specific issues and priorities:

Alveolar bone graft. – If your child has a cleft involving the alveolus or gum, he or she will need to have an alveolar bone graft between the ages of 5 to 6 years. This procedure is performed by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. If your child is over 6 years old, then you must be seen as soon as possible. Surgeons who are currently doing this are Dr. Lionel Candelaria (505) 881-1130, Dr. Elizaveta Rogol (505) 272-2336, Dr. Jason Schultz (505) 823-8488.

Speech. – It is important that your child’s speech be evaluated by speech therapists at the UNMH cleft team. If there are any speech abnormalities they will determine what treatment may be required such as nasendoscopy, therapy or surgery.

Palate. – If the palate is too short or has a hole (fistula) additional palate surgery may be required. This repair will be done by Dr. Bennett or Dr. Kraai.

Rhinoplasty. – This surgery to reshape the nose is ideally done in the teenage years, ages 15-17. It can be done before or after jaw surgery. All patients in need of cleft rhinoplasty surgery are to contact Dr. Tara Brennan at the University of New Mexico (505) 272-2336. She is a superb facial plastic surgeon and an expert in rhinoplasty. Her results are amazing.

Jaw Surgery. – In the teenage years, major jaw surgery may be required to restore a normal dental arch, usually around 16-17 years old. This is done in conjunction with orthodontic brace treatment. Your orthodontist will determine the need for jaw surgery and refer you to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. The following surgeons are currently doing this type of surgery: Dr. Lionel Candelaria (505) 881-1130, Dr. Elizaveta Rogol (505) 272-2336, Dr. Jason Schultz (505) 823-8488, Dr. Pong Ng (505) 797-3530, and Dr. Jeffrey Hagen (505) 797-3530.

Orthodontics (braces). – If your child is over the age of 7, you must see an orthodontist. Most of our patients are being followed by Dr. Dana Casuas (505) 508-4939, Dr. Lisa King (505) 299-7678 both are in Albuquerque as well as Dr. Clarice Pick in Santa Fe (505) 982-0094, Dr. Stephen Jensen in Las Cruces (575) 522-1779 and Dr. Derek Graff in Farmington (505) 327-4884. Please make an appointment to see an orthodontist as soon as possible.

Lip. – Minor or major lip revisions may be required to improve appearance. Please let the cleft palate clinic know of your concerns.

Social and Psychological Issues . – It is important that your child have both social and psychological support. If there are issues with medicaid, insurance, finances, transportation, appointments, or translation please see a social worker. Children’s Medical Services can provide these services around the state (toll free phone 1-877-890-4692). If the child is experiencing low self esteem, teasing or bullying, these issues need to be addressed with the school counselors or pediatrician.

Other special considerations:

In utero ultrasound diagnosis – Prospective parents will meet in person with Dr. Kraai or Dr. Bennett as well as a speech therapist to discuss feeding.

Older patients and adults with clefts – Patients older than 18 years of age with cleft issues can be evaluated by Dr. Kraai or Bennett. If the issue is related to the nose, then contact Dr. Brennan. If there are dental issues, contact your dentist.

Out of town patients – Assistance with appointments, transportation, finances and lodging can be obtained from your social worker.

Spanish speaking families – Translation services are available through all the major health plans and social workers.

Native American patients – All Native American patients including those living in Arizona are eligible to be seen at the UNMH Cleft Palate Clinic

Referrals, insurance and out-of-network – UNMH accepts ALL insurances and medicaid programs. A referral may be required.

You can find additional information and resources at:
University of New Mexico Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic
American Cleft Palate Association

I wish the best to all of my patients and families. Your lives have touched me greatly and I will always remember your courage, your strength and your smiles. Remember our motto:

Looking good, talking pretty !!!

~Luis Cuadros MD~