Living with a chronic medical condition is hard enough for adults, but for children, it can be even worse. Beyond the emotional and physical issues of an illness, the logistics of seeing a doctor trained to care for a child with a special condition can be difficult. A nationwide shortage of pediatric sub-specialists means many children and their parents need to travel long distances for regular appointments.
Ioulia Boxley has spent countless hours driving her 8-year-old son, Daniel, to see doctors in Chapel Hill. Daniel has a rare chromosome disorder and needs to be monitored by many different sub-specialists.
But additions to New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Pediatric Specialty Clinic have made it possible for the Boxleys and many other area families to make the trip up Interstate 40 less often. The clinic brings pediatric sub-specialists to Wilmington to care for patients here. The Boxleys have been seeing a pediatric endocrinologist at the clinic for the last few years and are now able to also see a neurologist there as well.
“It has been wonderful for us to see the specialists in town,” said Boxley. “Traveling is tough to do. It’s exhausting.”
The pediatric specialties now available at the clinic include neurology, cardiology, infectious disease, pulmonology, surgery, gastroenterology and endocrinology.
“We are continually trying to get more sub-specialists to come to Wilmington,” said Brenda Melvin, nurse practitioner at the clinic.
To access the expertise of physicians not able to come to Wilmington for a full day, the clinic is getting ready to launch a telemedicine program. Patients will go to an exam room in the clinic and meet a physician through a television monitor. The physician will be able to talk to the patient and monitor test results as they come in.
The availability of physicians through telemedicine is comforting to Boxley.
“With Daniel’s condition we never know what is going to happen next,” she said. “Now I know we can hook up with nearly any doctor, anywhere they are.”For more information about the NHRMC Pediatric Specialty Clinic, call 910.343.4517.