Specialized medical care is closer than ever for Andrew Fillingame.
The 11-year-old from Long Beach has severe refractory epilepsy, at one point suffering some 50 seizures a day. After a hemispherectomy at Batson Children's Hospital, the number of seizures has dropped to about two a week.
At one time, Andrew's mom, Lauren Bradshaw, was taking him more than an hour away to see specialists in New Orleans, which meant juggling the schedules of everyone in the family and a long car ride.
Then they met Dr. Mark Lee, who is now practicing in a new Children's of Mississippi clinic at 1721 Medical Park Drive in Biloxi's Cedar Lake area. “This makes getting the best care so much easier,” Bradshaw said. “It's been amazing for our family. We have three other children, so traveling for us can mean days of planning. To have something so close to home is so important to us, especially with a child who is prone to seizures.”
Pediatricians, health care professionals and city of Biloxi leaders join Lauren Bradshaw and son Andrew Fillingame in cutting the ribbon at the new Children's of Mississippi specialty clinic in Biloxi. Andrew, center, is a patient of neurologist Dr. Mark Lee at the clinic.
The clinic, which celebrated its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, is where Lee and pediatric cardiologist Dr. Brad Troutman will practice. Part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Children's of Mississippi encompasses all pediatric services available at UMMC including Batson Children's Hospital and clinical sites throughout Mississippi.
“Having experienced subspecialists locally is so much easier for patients,” said Dr. Bryant McCrary, senior pediatrician at Gulfport Memorial Pediatricians in Biloxi and Gulfport. “They don't have to travel far for care, and that is a major benefit for families. Otherwise, patients in our area would have to travel to New Orleans or Mobile for that level of care.”
Said McCrary: “UMMC's commitment to the Coast means so much to the children and families we serve. Specialty care is minutes from where they live.”
The opening of the Children's of Mississippi Gulf Coast clinic follows the opening of a Children's of Mississippi Tupelo clinic, offering pediatric cardiology and endocrinology, in January 2015. With the addition of the Gulf Coast clinic, there are now more than 10 Children's of Mississippi clinics in the state. In addition to clinics on and around UMMC's Jackson campus, Children's of Mississippi also operates clinics in North Jackson, Hattiesburg, Grenada and Tupelo.
Children's of Mississippi has, for the past three years, offered monthly clinic visits by commuting specialists in child development, hematology and orthopaedics at other locations on the Coast. The opening of the new clinic will centralize all subspecialty care in one location and will expand to include nephrology, pulmonology and telehealth access, linking the Coast with experts at UMMC.
Ashley Williams, right, pediatric nurse, takes Dr. Van Wurm and his wife Kim on a tour of the clinic.
“Ideally, all pediatric subspecialties will be available on a rotating basis,” Lee said.
Said Troutman: “Over time, we hope to provide multiple outpatient weekly or monthly clinics in multiple disciplines in our new Cedar Lake office.”
Noting that the vision of Children's of Mississippi is to touch the life of each child in Mississippi, Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and chair of pediatrics at UMMC, said that clinics bringing pediatric subspecialists closer to home for patients and their families is crucial to helping children reach their full potential.
“Care closer to home means patients see their doctors sooner,” Barr said. “Children receive treatments faster, and families are away from home less. To help children and their families, we must bring the services of our highly skilled pediatric subspecialists to areas throughout Mississippi. We want to care for children in their community so they can have the best access to medical care.”
“Specialized care also needs to be in the reach of local pediatricians whose patients need subspecialty care such as neurology or cardiology,” Dr. John Purvis, associate professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery and lead physician in the UMMC Office of Physician Relations, said. “We share the same goals: Healthy children and healthy families.”
Smiling at the opening of the new Children's of Mississippi specialty clinic on the Gulf Coast are, from left, Dr. Rick Barr and Dr. John Purvis from UMMC and Dr. Mark Lee and Dr. Brad Troutman, who will practice at the clinic, located in Biloxi's Cedar Lake area.
For families with children who see more than one subspecialist, such trips can be lengthy, expensive and difficult to schedule around work, school and the needs of other family members.
“The opening of the new Children's of Mississippi Gulf Coast clinic will provide families here with better access to other subspecialties,” said Lee, who was inspired to become a pediatric neurologist by the seizure disorder of one of his children.
Troutman, who served as chief of pediatric cardiology at the Air Force's Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi while it was a pediatric residency teaching hospital, agrees. “The Coast has had access to pediatric cardiology services for the past 20 years, but this clinic will provide continuity as well as multiple specialties.”
The clinic will serve families within the South Mississippi region as well, Lee said. “I see kids whose families drive in from Hattiesburg and from as far west as Louisiana. This clinic opening will be a huge help to families on the Coast and in the region.”