To be a parent nowadays is to take on one of the most daunting responsibilities around.
And it should be. Forget the Beaver Cleaver days when a chocolate-chip cookie or a pat on the head solved all the world’s problems.
On Tuesday, September 15, The Children’s Trust had nearly 60 guests for lunch and a session with Dr. Karen McClard, who had herself been a patient at Children’s when she was six weeks old with a heart murmur. Eventually she had open heart surgery at 5. While some kids would gotten their fill of hospitals and doctors, Karen embraced it wholeheartedly, becoming a pediatrician.
Throughout the lunch, Karen emphasized the need for moms to rely on their gut feelings and to call their pediatricians when something just isn’t right with their munchkin.
The focus of the discussion was childhood trauma and emergency solutions. Acknowledging that the three obvious reasons to take a child to an emergency room were if
- The child is turning blue or can’t breathe.
- The bone is sticking out.
- There’s so much blood “you need a mop.”
Karen emphasized the fact that too often when a childhood trauma takes place, the distraught parent takes them to an “adult” medical facility nearest the house or incident. Just as the Laura Bush Institute for Women’s Health has promoted time and time again the gender differences in diagnosing and treating men vs. women, so that attitude should be applied to children vs. adult situations. Too often child patients end up, through no fault of adult physicians, receiving adult treatment that may be too much for their still developing bodies.
Karen stressed the need to contact the pediatrician in cases of emergency, so the receiving medical facility will be alerted and prepared for the situation.
Regarding the recent development of “emergency rooms” that have popped up in the area, she voiced concern that while they were great in many regards, they probably didn’t have a pediatric expert.
Joining Karen at the dais was Children’s Associate Chief Nursing Officer/VP Michael Hefton. Like Karen, he “grew up in a hospital” having survived leukemia. He explained that “Children’s is an academic medical center. It is the only academically affiliated medical center pediatric health system in North Texas. We are associated with UT Southwestern’s medical school.”
About 60% of the children needing trauma care are male and the average age is 6 years old.
Then he reeled out the breakdown of traumatic cases that Children’s encountered in 2014:
- 133 sports injuries
- 50 dog bites
- 190 motor vehicle accidents
- 66 motor/pedestrian accidents
- 55 ATV accidents
- 17 gunshot injuries
- 71 abuse cases
- 594 falls
- 73 bicycle injuries
- 218 struck by objects
- 73 trampoline injuries
He then told of all the preventive programs that Children’s offers, including how to properly fit a car seat and pool safety.
In the Q&A session, the parents proved they are being pretty darn savvy about today’s potential dangers. One mom told how her young son had been discovered face down in the pool. Luckily, he was found early enough that all seemed right and she checked with her doctor that they were out of danger. However, a few hours later he started showing physical signs that were distressing and he was taken to the doctor. Thanks to his parents’ monitoring, he was saved from what is called “dry drowning.”
Another concern was allergic reactions. Karen said the best way was to test food allergies — shellfish, peanut butter and scrambled eggs — in small quantities early in the day to see if there is a reaction. She told how some parents have driven to her office parking lot to test their child in the car.
Regarding concussions, she said anytime a child vomits, loses consciousness, has pupils that don’t match and/or experiences a seizure should result in an ER trip.
Yes, today’s parents are true champions in their children’s lives, and they rely on pediatricians and specialized trauma facilities to back them up when an emergency arises.