Dr. Natalie Bhesania gets a surprise: artwork by patient Stella Bowman of Mendenhall. Looking on is mom Hilary Bowman.
Dr. Natalie Bhesania gets a surprise: artwork by patient Stella Bowman of Mendenhall. Looking on is mom Hilary Bowman.
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Tummy troubles and more are focus of Children’s of Mississippi gastroenterology clinic

Published on Monday, March 20, 2023

By: Annie Oeth,

Stella Bowman’s digestive problems caused everything from pain to reduced appetite, requiring a higher level of care.

“Before, she would just nibble and say she was full,” said her mother, Hilary Bowman of Mendenhall. “She’s eating now.”

Said 7-year-old Stella: “I had a croissant with cheese for breakfast.”

Stella is a patient at Children’s of Mississippi’s pediatric gastroenterology clinic at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower in Jackson. The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s pediatric organization and state’s only children’s hospital also brings pediatric gastroenterology care to Children’s of Mississippi clinics around the state.

Portrait of Phyllis Bishop

“We have six clinics in all with plans for more,” said Dr. Phyllis Bishop, Paul H. Parker Chair of Pediatric Gastroenterology.

The clinic also includes pediatric gastroenterologists Dr. Michael Nowicki, Dr. Natalie Bhesania and Dr. Sandra Camacho.

Additional clinic dates mean ready availability of appointments when primary care physicians make referrals.

That’s important when a child is having abdominal pain, vomiting, or has blood in a stool. “Many times, we can tell doctors that we can see their patients as soon as the same day or next,” Bishop said. “Gastrointestinal problems can affect a child’s growth, quality of life and ability to go to school. They can touch every part of a child’s life.”

Other frequently seen conditions include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, celiac disease, pancreatitis, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease and eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic condition that causes the esophagus to narrow because of inflammation.

“We treat conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and the organs related to them,” Bishop said.

The clinics also treat children with complex medical conditions including nutritional support for those who have feeding tubes. Children with congenital heart disease sometimes need feeding support from gastroenterologists.

Portrait of Bill Moskowitz

“Many of our patients require feeding tubes," said Dr. William Moskowitz, professor and chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center at Children’s of Mississippi. “We also have some patients, typically complex single ventricle patients, who are also followed by our pediatric gastroenterologists because of liver issues. Having pediatric gastroenterology available at Children’s of Mississippi helps our cardiology patients live healthier lives.”

Care through Children’s of Mississippi includes a wide range of medical specialties and subspecialties, Bishop said. “For multidisciplinary pediatric care, Children’s of Mississippi is really the only place to go.”

In Jackson, most pediatric gastroenterology care involves an outpatient visit to the Eli Manning Clinics for Children while procedures are performed in the Sanderson Tower.

Inside the children’s hospital are outpatient infusion areas as well as inpatient surgical areas, pediatric anesthesiologists, child life specialists who help patients and families cope with illness, and more.

“The Sanderson Tower is a Cadillac,” Bishop said. “The expansion and the pediatric specialists there are just excellent.”

Bowman said care from the pediatric gastroenterology clinic saved them from a hospital admission. “Dr. Bhesania is so nice, and she gave us a list of foods to include and exclude at the first visit. Stella’s doing so much better.”