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MUSC Health Blog

Date: 2018

Dr. Clarice Clemmens“A Fan for All Seasons”

Where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness or where the Ashley River meets the Cooper River – Clarice Clemmens, M.D., pediatric ENT at MUSC Children’s Health has embraced the many charms of South Carolina’s culture. The Idaho native, turned Clemson fan-fanatic cannot imagine a more perfect place to have a career as a pediatric ENT provider or raise her family.

Clarice first moved to South Carolina in 2001 when she accepted an academic scholarship to Clemson University and joined the soccer team. While her soccer career eventually faded, her love for the Clemson Tigers did not. “I had no connection to Clemson prior to my college experience,” she explains from her office decorated in orange, purple and tiger paws, “but my family and I are now dedicated Clemson fans. Our kids even named their Elf on the Shelf 'Dabo.'”

Clarice currently lives on James Island with her husband and three kids, ages 4, 2, and 4 months old. “Between working as a full-time surgeon and 3 kids under the age of 5, life is pretty busy,” continues Clarice. In the beginning of this journey, she instinctively knew she would pursue a career in medicine and most likely in pediatrics, but the decision to pursue a surgical field came as a surprise. “I fainted at the site of blood when I enrolled in medical school, and I could never quite imagine myself as a surgeon,” Clarice explains. “Fortunately, my father who is also a surgeon encouraged me to accompany him into the OR during my first year of medical school and the rest is history.”

Clarice completed medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina followed by an ENT residency at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and a pediatric ENT fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She eventually found her way back to Charleston in 2015 when she joined the pediatric ENT team at MUSC Children’s Health.

 Beyond her skills as a surgeon, Dr. Clemmens is the only fellowship-trained female pediatric ENT specialist in the state of South Carolina, a differentiation in which she takes great pride. “I feel that I bring a unique perspective in my approach to patient care, and can appreciate the concerns of parents as both a physician and a mother,” explains Clemmens. “I understand how difficult it can be to watch your child suffer, and use this understanding in addition to my medical training to guide to my patients and families through their individual situations.”

Through the years, she has discovered there are many families who are huge fans of the Clemson Tigers, but what we also know is that here in the Lowcountry; there are also huge fans of Clarice Clemmens. MUSC is so grateful for her talents and dedication she brings to our team. Go team Clemmens!  

Special guests visit Health Sports Human Physiology, Psychology Classes

Alecia Good and Savior
Athletic trainer Alecia Good and Saviour

November 14 was, for Pinewood's Head Athletic Trainer Alecia Good, a member of the MUSC Health Sports Medicine Team, "a wonderful reminder" of why she is a teacher. Good scheduled her friend Maurice Johnson, CO, BOCO, C.Ped, a certified orthotist and certified pedorthist from Floyd Brace Company (and Pinewood parent), to guest lecture in her Human Physiology and Psychology classes. Johnson asked to bring a model to help explain what he does for a living. The model was Saviour, a 10-year old boy from Ghana, Africa, who was born with cerebral palsy.

In Saviour's tribe, if babies are born with an anomaly (birth defect, maternal death, disease, or even twins or triplets), these babies are considered "spirit children" and are thought to have evil spirits that will be bad for the rest of the tribe. The parents are forced to make a difficult decision of moving the entire family to a "witch camp," where food and water are scarce, or getting rid of the "spirit child" and poisoning the baby.

Saviour was rescued by a local nun, Sister Stan, who cares for 57 other spirit children. Saviour could not walk or talk and got around by dragging himself by his hands. The scars on his knuckles mark the daily struggle he endured.

Sister Stan, through her charity, reached out to a retired nurse, Joan Tucker, who traveled to Ghana and advocated for surgery for Saviour. A long and difficult process finally brought Saviour to Shriners Hospital in Greenville, where he underwent a major reconstructive surgery at the end of June. He worked with a physical therapist to help build his strength and mobility. The physical therapist then referred him to Johnson for ankle foot orthotics.

Johnson, his assistant, Tucker, and Saviour all visited Good's classes that day. "Saviour spoke few words, but his smile lit up the room," said Good. He donned traditional attire as worn by chiefs in his tribe. He also had specially made New Balance shoes that provided a lift for a shorter leg. He had some orthosis on, but Johnson wanted to mold him for a new pair.

During Physiology class, Johnson explained the process of fitting, fabricating, and molding orthoses. He made casts on the ever-smiling Saviour and explained how they would help him walk. Saviour demonstrated his ability to walk across the room with one crutch and assistance from Tucker.

During Psychology class Johnson talked about the ability to allow his patients to participate more fully in life. Through the orthosis and a crutch, Saviour would now be able to move around and will not have to be carried or crawl.

Saviour's smile got even bigger when Tucker spoke about how excited he was to show his brothers and sisters in the orphanage how he could walk. Saviour plans to head home to Ghana in January, and Tucker will stay with him for a month while he learns to transition back into his regular life.

During the visit, the class also discussed the challenges Saviour will face after returning home. He will continue to grow, which creates the need for new shoes, braces, and longer crutches. Saviour and his team are hopeful these needs will all be met in time.

Said Good of the experience, "I'm not sure who learned more yesterday, my students or me. I thought that I was bringing in a guest lecturer to talk about a healthcare profession, but it was so much more. Instead of being the model, Saviour became the teacher.

"His story moved many of us to tears. His smile spoke volumes. His faith that has been instilled in him through Sister Stan was unshakable. The few words that he did speak brought joy to all our hearts. Saviour's presence was more impactful than any textbook could ever describe, any guest lecturer could ever explain, or any lesson I could ever plan."

Anna King, '18, also reflected on the visit: "It was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget. It was awesome to see how the things we are learning right now can help so many people in need."

For more information about Sister Stan's work, visit www.sisterstanschildren.org.

Every new year, many people are tempted to try the newest fad diet to either help lose weight or enhance athletic performance or both. Many of these diets call to restrict certain food groups such as carbohydrates. While this may help with weight loss temporarily, if not monitored carefully, a low-carb diet can lead to decreased energy and athletic performance. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body, and thus are important especially in an athlete’s diet. Once the body depletes its stores of carbohydrates, the body switches to use alternate fuels such as protein or fats.

Carbohydrates often get a bad name because they are often found in simple form in processed foods including refined sugars and white flour. These commonly are seen in cookies, sodas, pasta and white bread. These foods are generally not satisfying to the appetite and cause spikes in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates, however, are digested more slowly, leaving you feeling fuller and having less effect on blood sugar levels.  Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes (beans, lentils and peas).

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of a daily calorie intake. For an individual on a 2000 calorie per day diet, that would mean 900 to 1300 calories in the form of carbohydrates. Rather than having these calories come from “empty sources” such as processed foods, carbohydrates should come from nutrient-dense foods that are naturally occurring. My favorite diet tip is to stay to the outside of the grocery store when I am food shopping. On the outside you will find the fresh produce, meats, and dairy. Most processed food is in the center aisles. Natural foods will provide a better fuel for the body, improving overall health and athletic performance.

Rather than limiting a certain food group, the best nutrition advice is to ensure that your diet has variety, balance and moderation. A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods from all food groups will allow for the best result in the New Year and for many years to come.

For more information:

https://www.choosemyplate.gov
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/

 

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