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Craniofacial Team



Audiologists evaluate your child's hearing. Untreated hearing loss may lead to problems in a number of areas.  These include speech and language development, psychological and social development, and school performance.

Children with craniofacial conditions are at increased risk for ear and hearing problems, and should have their hearing monitored carefully throughout childhood.

Jennifer White, MS, CCC-AJennifer White, MS, CCC-A
Dept of Audiology
Cochlear Implant Center
VCU Medical Center

Child Psychology

Craniofacial disorders often create a difficult adjustment for the child and family.

Our psychologists assist in providing evaluation and support for your child at all stages of your child's life. They can help determine how a craniofacial condition is affecting your child's life and provide support and guidance.  They will also discuss your child’s learning skills and school abilities.

Differences in appearance can cause a wide variety of emotional reactions for your child and family. The key role of psychologists is to help families and children reach their potential. Our psychologists serve as resources when you are making decisions about whether your child needs more surgery, help you and your child prepare for procedures, and for any hospital stay. They are also available to work with you and your child during hospital stays.

Jaee Bodas, PhDJaee Bodas, PhD
Assistant Professor
VCU Department of Psychiatry


Every patient with a craniofacial difference benefits from the efforts of a full-time clinical coordinator, who works to ensure a smooth path from diagnosis through treatment. Treatment plans can be complex and involve many different health care providers. Our clinical care coordinators can help you understand and navigate all aspects of your child’s health care needs. 

Our coordinators are an important resource for families throughout treatment. In addition to helping families coordinate their child’s heath care needs, they provide help and support to families both in and out of the hospital. 

Throughout your child's treatment, our coordinators are available for support and information about the diagnosis and the impact a craniofacial abnormality may have on the family. Working closely with our team psychologists, our clinical care coordinators provides integrated psychological support for your child and family.

Clinical care coordinators can facilitate family-to-family connections and can help you locate resources. They are available to families throughout the course of care to answer questions and give advice.

Ruth Trivelpiece, MEd, CCC-SLP

Ruth Trivelpiece, MEd, CCC-SLP
Program Coordinator, VCU Center for Craniofacial Care at Children's Hospital of Richmond

VCU Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dept of Surgery

JoAnn Tillet, RNJoAnn Tillet, RN
Clinical Nurse Coordinator
Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Dept of Neurosurgery
VCU School of Medicine

Courtney Roberts, BA
Patient Care Coordinator
VCU Center for Craniofacial Care at Children's Hospital of Richmond


The Department of Human and Molecular Genetics provides comprehensive genetics services, including consultation with board-certified medical geneticists and genetic counselors.

All of us have questions about our genetic makeup. Expectant parents may have concerns about their child having a birth defect. Often families question how to best manage a genetic condition or birth defect and where they can get help.

When a genetic condition or birth defect happens, family members often ask:

  • Is there a known cause, some condition that can be treated or prevented?
  • Why did this happen?
  • What are medical management issues?
  • What can we expect in the future?
  • Is there a test to detect this?
  • Can this be detected in the future pregnancies?
  • Where can we go for more information and help?

Genetic evaluation and counseling can help answer some of these questions. Providers offer families information on genetic disorders and help them make informed medical and personal decisions.

Arti Pandya, MDArti Pandya, M.D.
Associate Professor
Dept. of Human and Molecular Genetics
VCU School of Medicine

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of the jaw, teeth and lower face. Their goals are to create facial symmetry, properly align the jaws and ensure proper placement of your child's teeth.

Many craniofacial conditions involve these areas, and our oral surgeons work closely with our orthodontists and other surgeons to improve facial function and appearance.

Omar Abubaker, DMD, PhDOmar Abubaker, DMD, PhD
Professor and Chairman
Dept of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
VCU Medical Center


Orthodontists evaluate tooth and jaw development and growth. Orthodontic assessment and treatment is an essential part of the craniofacial team.

Orthodontic care is an essential part of preparing for surgery involving the gums, jaws, and teeth. Our orthodontic team works closely with the plastic surgeons and oral maxillofacial surgeons to determine the timing and details of surgery.

Bhavna Shroff, DDS, MDSc, Professor & Postgraduate Program Director, OrthodontistBhavna Shroff, DDS, MDSc
Professor and Postgraduate Program Director
Dept of Orthodontics
VCU School of Dentistry

Pediatric Dentistry

Pediatric dentists are important members of the craniofacial team.

Healthy teeth and gums are particularly important for children with craniofacial conditions. Our pediatric dentists will provide an evaluation of the health of your child's mouth during clinic visits. Healthy teeth are very important for children with craniofacial conditions because they support orthodontic appliances used to improve jaw position and results of reconstructive surgery.

When dental treatment is needed, it may be done in the hospital's dental clinic or by your child's own dentist in consultation with the team.

Frank Farrington, DDS, Professor Emeritus, VCU Pediatric DentistryFrank Farrington, DDS
Professor Emeritus
Dept of Pediatric Dentistry
VCU Medical Center

Pediatric Neurosurgery

Pediatric neurosurgeons specialize in treating abnormalities of the brain, spine, and skull of children. They work together with craniofacial surgeons to treat craniofacial conditions which affect the brain and skull. 

Pediatric neurosurgeons also take care of children with brain or spinal cord tumors, vascular malformations, Chiari malformations, epilepsy, spina bifida, tethered cord, and trauma.

Working closely with the craniofacial team, the pediatric neurosurgeons help ensure that your child receives safe and comprehensive treatment. 

John D. Ward, MD, MSHA, Executive Vice Chair, Dept of Neurosurgery; Chief, Pediatric NeurosurgeryJohn D. Ward, MD, MSHA
Hirschler Professor
Executive Vice Chair
VCU Dept of Neurosurgery
Chair, Pediatric Neurosurgery
Co-Director, Harold F. Young Neurosurgical Center
VCU Medical Center
Gary W. Tye, MD, Neurosurgeon, Neurosurgeon, Dept of NeurosurgeryGary W. Tye, MD
Assistant Professor
Dept of Neurosurgery
VCU Medical Center
Ann M. Ritter, MD, Dept of NeurosurgeryAnn M. Ritter, MD
Assistant Professor
Dept of Neurosurgery
VCU Medical Center

Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Babies with craniofacial anomalies and other structural and developmental issues may have difficulties with feeding. During the newborn period, our pediatric occupational therapist works closely in the hospital with the team to identify and develop successful feeding strategies for your child.

She is also available during regular team evaluations to monitor your baby’s progress in feeding and provide suggestions to support your child’s development.

Audrey Kane, OT/L
Ocupational Therapist

Pediatric Ophthalmology

Pediatric ophthalmologists are medical doctors who were first trained in diseases and surgery of the eye after finishing medical school. They then pursue further training in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of those eye disorders that are unique to children.

Craniofacial conditions can affect a child's vision or the position of the eyes. Our pediatric ophthalmologists will assess and treat vision and problems with the muscles controlling eye movement. They will assess the health of the optic nerve and how well the eye is protected by the bony brow, important concerns in many craniofacial conditions. 

Ed Wortham V, MDEd Wortham V, MD
Pediatric Ophthalmologist

Pediatric Otolaryngology

Our pediatric otolaryngologists are surgical specialists with expertise in treating disorders of the head, neck, ears, nose and throat in children. They assess and monitor your child's hearing, ears, breathing and speech development.  They also work with the team to provide medical and surgical therapy for disorders and anomalies of these areas.

Kelley Dodson, MD, Assistant Professor, VCU Dept of OtolaryngologyKelley Dodson, MD
Assistant Professor
Dept of Otolaryngology
VCU Medical Center

Pediatric Plastic Surgery

Craniofacial surgeons perform plastic and reconstructive surgery on the soft tissue and bones of the face and skull.  They have completed additional specialized training beyond their training as plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

Your child may need multiple surgical procedures to address the function and appearance of the face and head due to the complex nature of many of these conditions. Craniofacial surgeons follow your child and can assist you during your child's growth and development.

Jennifer L. Rhodes, MD, Craniofacial Surgeon, Director of the VCU Center for Craniofacial CareJennifer L. Rhodes, MD
Director, VCU's Center for Craniofacial Care at Children's Hospital of Richmond

Assistant Professor of Surgery
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
VCU Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dept of Surgery

Speech Pathology

Craniofacial anomalies, including cleft palate, may contribute to speech differences. Our speech pathologists assess and monitor your child's speech development throughout childhood to determine if management through speech therapy or surgery is needed to improve speech skills.

At the clinic visits, your child will receive a screening assessment of speech, resonance and feeding skills. To help families and patients with communication needs, speech pathologists provide information on language and speech development, make referrals to community resources and work with community speech therapists with planning appropriate intervention.

When in-depth evaluation of speech mechanics is needed, our speech pathologists help administer and interpret radiographic, endoscopic and swallowing studies that look at palate functioning. They assist the team in decision making regarding the need for surgery and/or interventional speech services.

Elizabeth Higgins, MA, CCC-SLPElizabeth Higgins, MA, CCC-SLP
Department of Speech / Language Pathology
VCU Medical Center
Sara Barnhill, MS, CCC-SLPSara Barnhill, MS, CCC-SLP
Department of Speech / Language Pathology
Children's Hospital of Richmond
Brook Road Campus


Interventional Radiology

Malcolm K. Syndor, MDMalcolm K. Sydnor, MD
Director Vascular & Interventional Radiology
Department of Radiology

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery

Victoria G. Kuester, MDVictoria G. Kuester, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Orthopedic Surgery