Leslie Walker-Harding, MD, Brings Integrated Health Care Approach to Penn State Children’s Hospital

Photo of Leslie Walker-Harding, MD
Leslie Walker-Harding, MD

Leslie Walker-Harding, MD, has joined Penn State Health as medical director, Penn State Children’s Hospital and pediatrics department chairperson, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Prior to her arrival on the East Coast in September, Dr. Walker-Harding served as division chief of adolescent medicine at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital, and co-director of the Seattle Children’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP). Dr. Walker-Harding brings with her a philosophy of providing an integrated approach to health care, including the medical, mental health and social needs of rural communities.

In an effort to work together for the children throughout the region, Dr. Walker-Harding brings forth her philosophy with Children’s Hospital faculty and staff to continue their work around the health and wellness of the youngest patients, as well as those approaching adulthood. “I’m very interested in how academic centers can impact community health,” states Dr. Walker-Harding. “Whether it’s called population health or even public health, it’s really about improving the health of the communities we have the ability to impact.” Continue reading “Leslie Walker-Harding, MD, Brings Integrated Health Care Approach to Penn State Children’s Hospital”

Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic Provides Early Intervention for Congenital Heart Patients

Recent studies have confirmed the link between medical issues requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment and developmental delays in children with congenital heart disease.1,2 The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic at Penn State Children’s Hospital is one of fewer than 20 programs in the country designed to provide both early assessment and early intervention for this population.

Dr. Tierney consults with the family of Lily Bagnato, a 16-month-old with truncus arteriosus, at the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic.
Dr. Tierney consults with the family of Lily Bagnato, a 16-month-old with truncus arteriosus, at the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic.

Children are typically referred to the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic by pediatric cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons, and are monitored at ages associated with significant developmental milestones through childhood and adolescence (6-9 months, 18 months, 24 months, 3 years, 5 years, etc.). Areas monitored include a child’s receptive and expressive language, cognitive development, play skills, adaptive skills and fine and gross motor development. “Our evaluation is based on a combination of screening, rating scales and direct testing,” says Cheryl Tierney, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and section chief, behavior and developmental pediatrics. “This allows us to provide an individualized plan for each patient. Our multidisciplinary team includes a nurse practitioner, cardiology physician assistant, occupational therapist, pediatric neuropsychologist and a feeding specialist who is a speech and language pathologist.”

Continue reading “Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic Provides Early Intervention for Congenital Heart Patients”

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Follow-up Clinic Monitors At-risk Patients Throughout Early Childhood

Penn State Children’s Hospital is also home to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Follow-up Clinic, which seeks to improve outcomes for babies deemed at-risk for later difficulties, especially those born prematurely and with high-risk premature conditions. While the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic focuses on the medical and psychosocial development of children born with heart problems and provides services through patients’ teen years, the multidisciplinary staff at the NICU Follow-up Clinic provides services to children born with any condition that would increase their risk for developmental delays. Children can continue to receive services with the NICU Follow-up Clinic until they reach preschool age.

Started in late summer 2015, the clinic is already outpacing its capacity and plans are in place to expand services to meet the growing demand. While it is too early to identify any significant outcomes or volume data, anecdotal evidence indicates that the programs have experienced rapid growth as evidenced by the need to expand the hours.

The clinic staff are also planning to pool data from multiple patients in order to generate a database that will be used in future research efforts.

Specialized Concussion Program Adds to Pediatric Trauma Care

Harry Bramley, DO, examines a patient in the Pediatric Trauma Program.
Harry Bramley, DO, examines a patient in the Pediatric Trauma Program.

Every year, more than 700 children are evaluated at Penn State Children’s Hospital as a result of a traumatic injury. Injuries from trauma, including a playground fall or motor vehicle accident, are a leading cause of death in children.1 “As one of only four Level 1 pediatric trauma centers in Pennsylvania, Penn State Children’s Hospital provides advanced care to local and regional residents,” says Medical Director Brett Engbrecht, MD. “Specialized programs and expertise, including that in our growing Concussion Program, contribute to the advanced trauma care we provide.”

Continue reading “Specialized Concussion Program Adds to Pediatric Trauma Care”

Imaging Gently: Penn State Children’s Hospital Leads the Way in Reducing Radiation Exposure Risk

MRI images showing two axial views of retrocecal appendicitis (the second with fat saturation to make the inflammation more easily seen). The appendicitis is located at the posterior aspect on the right of the patient (reader’s lower left).
MRI images showing two axial views of retrocecal appendicitis (the second with fat saturation to make the inflammation more easily seen). The appendicitis is located at the posterior aspect on the right of the patient (reader’s lower left).

Sharing in the mission of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging to improve “safe and effective imaging care of children worldwide,”1 Penn State Children’s Hospital has become a national leader in utilizing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to diagnose pediatric appendicitis. By using MRIs instead of conventional computerized tomography (CT), physicians at Children’s Hospital are limiting their patients’ exposure to potentially harmful radiation.

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, sponsor of the Image Gently® campaign, has grown quickly to a coalition of health care organizations, including Penn State Children’s Hospital, “dedicated to providing safe, high quality pediatric imaging worldwide.”2

Continue reading “Imaging Gently: Penn State Children’s Hospital Leads the Way in Reducing Radiation Exposure Risk”

Multidisciplinary Perinatal Program Cares for Mothers and Babies

Approximately one in 33 babies in the U.S. is born with a birth defect. Among the most common are atrioventricular septal defects, spina bifida and intestinal atresia or stenosis.1 Many major defects are detected early during routine ultrasound imaging. “For women with a complex, high-risk pregnancy, a multidisciplinary team is usually needed to manage the needs of the mother and baby, throughout pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care,” explains Jaimey M. Pauli, M.D., a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Pauli and Thomas Chin, M.D., chief, pediatric cardiology, co-direct the Penn State Perinatal Program, an active outreach program for patients who are pregnant or have newborns with birth defects or abnormalities.

“Expectant parents are often overwhelmed when they learn about these serious fetal abnormalities. Aside from coping with the obvious emotional impact, they need help obtaining the complex care their baby requires to achieve the best possible outcomes. With our program, a team of specialists handles everything and provides highly coordinated care at a single center, which reduces stress and supports the parents,” adds Dr. Pauli.

Continue reading “Multidisciplinary Perinatal Program Cares for Mothers and Babies”

Near or Far, Penn State Children’s Heart Group Provides Full Continuum of Care

This image from a fetus with trisomy 21 shows the four chambers of the heart and abnormalities characteristically seen with a common atrioventricular (AV) canal defect.
A fetal echocardiogram provides details that can be obtained as early as 26 weeks’ gestation. This image from a fetus with trisomy 21 shows the four chambers of the heart and abnormalities characteristically seen with a common atrioventricular (AV) canal defect.

As one of the few tertiary care pediatric centers in Pennsylvania, Penn State Children’s Hospital features a Children’s Heart Group that has been an active presence in the community for decades. The Children’s Heart Group (CHG) provides fetal echocardiography, interventional cardiology, arrhythmia care, electrophysiology, cardiac intensive care and pulmonary hypertension services, as well as heart surgery to pediatric patients across the Commonwealth.

Thomas Chin, M.D., chief, pediatric cardiology, explains that CHG specialists perform complex surgery on neonates and children (as well as adults with congenital heart defects) and treat more typical conditions requiring pediatric cardiology consultation, such as heart murmurs, fainting and chest pain. They also help patients transition to adult cardiac care, as more than 90 percent of pediatric cardiology patients reach adulthood and require ongoing cardiology care. In fact, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has one of the longest-established programs in adult congenital heart disease in the U.S. Pediatric and adult cardiologists collaborate to care for patients with heart defects, as well as the cardiac concerns they develop as adults. Continue reading “Near or Far, Penn State Children’s Heart Group Provides Full Continuum of Care”