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, 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”

Customized Approach to Treating Pediatric Colorectal Conditions, Special Emphasis on Anorectal Malformations

Colorectal conditions in children can be debilitating and impact quality-of-life. Some conditions, like Hirschsprung’s disease, pediatric pelvic developmental abnormalities and anorectal malformations, are present at birth. Other conditions, such as inflammatory intestinal diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), rectal prolapse and debilitating constipation occur later in infancy and childhood. Many of these conditions require surgical treatments.

Fortunately, help is close by at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital with the Pediatric Colorectal Program directed by pediatric surgeon Dorothy V. Rocourt, M.D. Many children with pediatric colorectal conditions also suffer from constipation and poor bowel control; however, with proper bowel management, most can achieve continence. The program provides expertise in the treatment of these problems and related disorders, with a particular focus on bowel management in patients with anorectal malformations. Alissa Bergstresser, MSN, CPNP-PC, is the program manager for the Penn State Hershey Pediatric Colorectal Program, which also includes pediatric urologists, adolescent gynecologists, child psychologists, nutritionists and pediatric gastroenterologists who collaborate to develop a customized plan to meet each patient’s needs. Continue reading “Customized Approach to Treating Pediatric Colorectal Conditions, Special Emphasis on Anorectal Malformations

Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences

Childhood obesity rates have almost tripled since the 1980s.1 Since the attitudes of parents, caregivers and physicians can have a lasting impact on children, it is vital that healthy eating messages are communicated in a supportive, non-shaming way. This encourages children to make beneficial food choices while maintaining a positive sense of self.2 “Positives are always better than negatives,” says Martha Levine, M.D., director, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, Penn State Hershey Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders division.

Fortunately, schools are becoming more involved with helping children make healthier choices; however, even with the best of intentions, sometimes those messages can have a negative impact. With annual weigh-ins and a “BMI report card,” results can be damaging, even shameful for children who cannot yet fully understand proper context or have the maturity yet to process it properly. The focus can turn to weight without a focus on health, and that can lead to dangerous eating behaviors. With the only dedicated eating disorder programs in the area, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital hopes to counteract the potential negative effects of these well-intentioned health messages. Continue reading “Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences”

Challenging Case Benefits from Treatment Approach, Best Practices and Access to a Clinical Trial in Pediatric Brain Tumors

When a child develops a severe medical condition such as a brain tumor, it is natural for parents to want “the best care.” Fortunately, Penn State Hershey Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery are nationally ranked repeatedly by U.S. News & World Report, and employ some of America’s Top Doctors®. According to Mark S. Dias, M.D., professor of neurosurgery and director, pediatric neurosurgery, “The outstanding outcomes at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital result from a multidisciplinary team that covers every aspect of patient care.” This team includes pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric oncologists, pediatric general surgeons, a dedicated Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with board-certified pediatric critical care medicine specialists, pediatric neuroradiologists and specially-trained support staff such as pediatric nurses, therapists, Child Life specialists and neuropathologists.

CT Scan
CT scans revealed an enormous left-sided tumor measuring approximately 8 cm by 9 cm that took up more than a quarter of Kaylahni Laboy’s brain at 6 months of age.

Continue reading “Challenging Case Benefits from Treatment Approach, Best Practices and Access to a Clinical Trial in Pediatric Brain Tumors”

Newborn Weight Tool Addresses Major Clinical Gap for Pediatricians

For the first time, a new online tool is helping pediatricians and parents determine worrisome amounts of weight loss in breastfed newborns. The Newborn Weight Tool, or NEWT, is an interactive weight loss chart using data from more than 100,000 exclusively breastfed babies born between 2009 and 2013. It was developed by Ian Paul, M.D., Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with Eric Schaefer, a statistician at Penn State College of Medicine, and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and Kaiser Permanente. NEWT enables health care professionals to compare an individual newborn’s weight loss with a large sample size – similar to the way in which growth charts are used – to start interventions early, when needed. However, it’s mostly used to help reassure new parents that their babies are receiving enough nourishment from breastfeeding during the first days after birth. Continue reading “Newborn Weight Tool Addresses Major Clinical Gap for Pediatricians”

Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Research Center Impacted More Than 500 Lives throughout Pennsylvania in 2014

More than 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., and while 80 percent of children survive, one in five die within five years.1 Penn State Hershey is committed to improving those outcomes through its Four Diamonds’ Pediatric Oncology Research Center. The Center has been led by Chief of Pediatric Oncology Barbara Miller, M.D., since 2005, and has grown substantially in that time. Continue reading “Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Research Center Impacted More Than 500 Lives throughout Pennsylvania in 2014”