Blessing Health Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic team earns national recognition

ACPA approved

QUINCY — A specialized Blessing Health team that provides life-changing care to children has earned a prestigious national recognition.

The Blessing Health Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic team of providers specializes in the care of cleft lip, cleft palate and other head and facial bone disorders, known as craniofacial disorders. The team has earned “Cleft Palate Team” approval from the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association (ACPA) for meeting its standards, making it one of 200 approved teams in the United States and Canada. The next closest ACPA approved teams to Blessing are in Springfield, St. Louis, Mo., and Iowa City, Iowa.

The palate is the roof of the mouth. A cleft palate happens if the tissue making up that area does not join together completely during pregnancy. Cleft palate complications can include difficulties with feeding and with speech development, ear infections and related hearing problems and dental issues. Surgery can reduce a child’s chances for cleft palate complications. Cleft palate care begins at birth and continues for years. The Centers for Disease Control reports that about 1 in every 1,700 babies in the United States is born with a cleft palate.

The ACPA team approval process ensures that cleft and craniofacial care is provided in a coordinated and consistent manner, follows the proper sequence and takes place within the framework of the patient’s overall developmental, medical and psychological needs. Teams are comprised of experienced and qualified professionals who work in an interdisciplinary and coordinated system to provide strong and reliable communication between team members, families and referring providers.

In a press release, Dr. Arshad R. Muzaffar, the team’s plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said, “Members of the Blessing Health Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic team have been doing cleft care for many, many years. Parents and guardians want their children cared for by providers who have delivered this specialized care for a long time and have demonstrated excellent results. In addition to our years of experience, the ACPA recognition is another level of assurance for parents and guardians that our team meets or exceeds the national standards to provide their child with the life-changing care they need.”

Muzaffar earned his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed a residency in plastic surgery from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Muzaffar went on to complete two fellowships, including one in craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. He is double-board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Working with Muzaffar on the Blessing Health Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic team are:

  • Dr. Mark Mount, ear, nose and throat specialist;
  • Dr. Darren Wittenberger, orthodontist;
  • Gale Rice, speech-language pathologist;
  • Dr. Brittney Moore, neuropsychologist;
  • Lauren Welch, audiologist;
  • Shanna Dierker, plastic and reconstructive surgery; and
  • Jennifer Hermann, team coordinator and plastic surgery coordinator.

To learn more about the team and its services, go to

The Blessing Health Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic team is listed on the ACPA website,, which is available to the general public to reference when choosing a provider for cleft and craniofacial healthcare needs.

ACPA team approval is an independent process that ensures accurate information is provided to patients and families. Approval by the Commission does not imply endorsement of the quality of treatment or services provided by any member of the approved team. For more information, visit

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