The clinic treats about 600 children for 80 different genetic disorders or syndromes such as glutaric aciduria (GA1), maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), Crigler-Najjar syndrome (CNS), and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD). Not all the children are Amish or Old Order Mennonites; about 15% of the children come from elsewhere, including Africa and Asia. About 75% of the children are treatable—and a third of those are highly treatable, many through techniques developed at the center. The center is responsible for nearly two dozen scientific papers.
There is an increasing consciousness among the Amish of the advantages of exogamy. A common bloodline in one community will often be absent in another, and genetic disorders can be avoided by choosing spouses from unrelated communities. For example, the founding families of the Lancaster County Amish are unrelated to the founders of the Perth County Amish community in Canada.
Treating genetic problems is the mission of the Clinic which has developed effective treatments for such problems as maple syrup urine disease, a disease which previously was fatal. The clinic has been enthusiastically embraced by most Amish, and has largely ended a situation in which some parents felt it necessary to leave the community to care properly for their children, an action which normally might result in being shunned.
In the 1980s, Morton took a special interest in Amish children with rare metabolic diseases. Morton was a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when he first became aware of their special problems. In 1989, Morton bought untillable land from an Amish farmer and held a barn-raising. The result was a community hospital providing care, counseling, and genetic testing for disorders unique to the Amish and Old Order Mennonite populations.
He initially did most of his own genetic testing and lab work, but now outsources DNA testing for over 30 genetic disorders in addition to the 25 extremely rare disorders he and his team screen for.
Amish and Mennonites near Middlefield, Ohio, have raised US$700,000 towards the US$1.8 million needed to open the nonprofit Deutsch Center for Special Needs Children in Middlefield, to be headed by Dr. Heng Wang, who studied and worked with Morton.
The Lancaster County community holds several benefit auctions for the clinic each year, raising sufficient funds to cover about a third of the clinic's operating costs. Amish and Mennonite families donate quilts, furniture, baked goods, and other items to the sale. The clinic is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.