February 21, 2018
By Kristi Birch
The editors of Ingram's magazine have named Moya Peterson, Ph.D., APRN, clinical associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing, one of their Heroes in Healthcare for 2018. This award recognizes health care providers in the Kansas City area who go above and beyond the call of duty contributing both to their institutions and to the health care industry in general.
The award honors Peterson's work creating and directing the Adults with Down Syndrome Specialty Clinic in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. With the exception of a Chicago-area clinic that serves only patients in Illinois, Peterson's clinic is the only one in the Midwest for adults with Down syndrome. It's the only one created and directed by a nurse practitioner.
Peterson was nominated for the award by the University of Kansas Health System. "The Adults with Down Syndrome Specialty Clinic is an outstanding example of one person's commitment to making a difference," wrote Bob Page, President and Chief Executive Officer of the KU Health System.
Peterson, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Family Medicine, founded the nurse-run clinic in 2009, in response to a growing need for coordinated primary health care for adults with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes developmental delays and physical abnormalities. Clinics existed for children with the disorder, but very few served adults. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has risen sharply, from age 26 in 1951 to age 61 today, but the provision of coordinated care for adults has not kept pace.
Peterson has been interested in caring for people with Down syndrome since she did a rotation in nursing school at a day clinic in Illinois and met a young man who had the disorder. "I just fell in love with him," she remembered. "He didn't have great language skills, but he could communicate. And we just had fun. He was such a loving guy."
Peterson joined the School of Nursing in 1992 as the first nurse practitioner ever to be hired by the school. Since founding the clinic, she estimates that she has seen about 400 patients there. In addition to treating patients in Kansas and Missouri, she has patients who travel from Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Indiana. She is the only nurse practitioner on the committee working to draft national guidelines for the care of adults with Down syndrome. She also teaches a number of master's- and doctoral-level courses at the KU School of Nursing.
This isn't Peterson's first accolade this year. In January, she won a national award when she was named the winner of the 2018 Lillian Carter Exemplary Acts in Nursing Award, one of three Excellence in Nursing Awards sponsored by Modern Healthcare. In addition, she was recently named Distinguished Nursing Alumna for 2018 from the School of Nursing, where she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in 2006.