SPAN: Providing Primary Care for Adults with Special Needs


When it comes to primary care, adults with special needs require a lot of the same things we’re used to seeing in our own primary care: routine periodic health screenings, maintaining health records, continuity of care and an ongoing relationship with a physician.

However, living with special needs like Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and genetic disorders comes with its own set of unique needs for primary care. Unfamiliar offices and staff can cause stress and anxiety, making it all the more important for these patients to have an established, familiar primary care routine. It’s also important for primary care staff to know how to anticipate difficult behaviors and understand the health issues that are common in these populations.

The SPAN Program

AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at Shawnee Mission is providing comprehensive, patient-focused care for adults with a chronic condition through the Special Pediatric-to-Adult Need (SPAN) program. The first and only program of its kind in Greater Kansas City, SPAN provides a consistent, reliable medical home for patients with special needs, including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and genetic disorders.

Located on the AdventHealth Shawnee Mission campus, the SPAN program allows patients with special needs to receive primary care in the same location as their family members. Led by Laura Gaffney, MD, the SPAN team includes a nurse practitioner, a social worker and other clinical associates who make up a patient-focused team with expertise in the care of adults with special needs.

Dr. Gaffney has been providing care for adults with special needs since 1996. Dual certified in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, she is uniquely qualified to provide specialized care to patients of all ages. Dr. Gaffney focuses her practice on adults with special needs and has earned numerous awards for excellence in patient care. While she is no longer accepting traditional primary care patients, she is currently accepting new primary care patients through the SPAN program. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gaffney, call 913-632-SPAN (7726) or call 913-632-2900 and specify your interest in SPAN when speaking with the scheduler.