New chief of pediatric cardiology: Children’s of Mississippi ‘total package’
Published on Monday, September 24, 2018
By: Annie Oeth
Making a difference, whether in a hospital or on an overseas medical mission, has been the motivation for Dr. William Moskowitz throughout his medical career.
He’s now making a difference as chief of pediatric cardiology for the University of Mississippi Medical Center and director of the Children’s of Mississippi Children’s Heart Center. Moskowitz joined the UMMC faculty as a professor in late August.
“The opportunity here in Mississippi was one that no one could beat,” said Moskowitz, who previously was chief of pediatric cardiology and director of pediatric cardiac catheterization at The Children’s Hospital of Richmond, a part of Virginia Commonwealth University. “Coming to Children’s of Mississippi was the total package – exceptional people, a strong children’s heart program, a shared commitment to improving the health of children and an exciting new expansion under construction.”
A $180 million pediatric addition is now under construction on UMMC’s campus. The seven-story tower will be a new home for the Children’s Heart Center and will include private neonatal and pediatric intensive care rooms, 10 surgical suites, an imaging center designed for children and an outpatient clinic with a variety of pediatric subspecialties all under one roof.
The project is in its structural phase. Interior work is scheduled to begin in August 2019, and doctors look toward treating patients in the expansion by fall 2020.
“Having a physician of Dr. Moskowitz’s caliber join Children’s of Mississippi is an enormous benefit to our patients,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of pediatrics. “We look forward to further progress in pediatric cardiology with his leadership in the Children’s Heart Center.”
Moskowitz said he is excited to work with familiar faces such as pediatric cardiologist Dr. Makram Ebeid and one of his former fellows, Dr. Avichal Aggarwal, as well as with Taylor and chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery Dr. Brian Kogon.
“Dr. Taylor is doing a phenomenal job here,” he said, “and Dr. Kogon does amazing work. I’ve known Dr. (Makram) Ebeid, Dr. (Charles) Gaymes and Dr. (Avichal) Aggarwal and their expertise for many years. The Children’s Heart Center has world-class experts on staff and achieves outcomes that are among the best in the country.”
A World Pediatric Project volunteer for nearly 20 years, Moskowitz has led 39 medical missions to nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean. During his WPP work, he developed a program to screen children in the Eastern Caribbean for rheumatic fever, an offshoot of untreated strep throat that can cause lingering heart damage.
Moskowitz plans to continue to volunteer with the Virginia-based organization. “It’s been a major part of my life,” he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I will still be making those trips and participating in all the screenings and continuing to build the rheumatic fever prevention program throughout the eastern Caribbean.”
At UMMC, Moskowitz looks forward to collaboration with pediatric neurologists and gastroenterologists on a condition that is one of his specialties, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS.
Those with POTS often feel dizzy or light-headed when standing up because most of their blood stays in the lower parts of their bodies, which results in a drop in blood pressure. Their hearts then beat faster to try to move the blood to their brains.
“Young people often develop this condition after a traumatic brain injury,” he said. “They may have had a concussion and then have problems with getting light-headed or having brain fog. It is a complicated condition, but subspecialists can work together to improve the patient’s quality of life and improve their symptoms.”
POTS may also occur after infections or be associated with certain genetic conditions.
Moskowitz served as a clinician and educator at VCU for 34 years and was named a professor of pediatric cardiology in 2000. Gaining his M.D. at the University of South Florida in 1978 after earning a bachelor of science degree at Florida Technical University in 1975, Moskowitz was a pediatric resident and then a fellow in pediatric cardiology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Cardiology, among others, and has served in numerous leadership posts in the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2017, Virginia’s then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe named Moskowitz to the board of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, an organization that seeks to reduce and prevent childhood obesity and tobacco and substance abuse.
Those, said Moskowitz, are issues that he’d like to continue to address. Mississippi is ranked among the highest in the country in childhood obesity, a condition that can lead to diabetes and hypertension, he said.
He’d like to see children in Mississippi have the “healthy ZIP Code of 95210 every day – that’s 9 hours of sleep, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, a maximum of 2 hours of screen time, at least 1 hour of exercise and zero sugar-sweetened drinks.”
“We want to instill in our youths a healthy lifestyle at an early age,” he said, “and it is the duty of all of us to educate families.”