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Keyword: childrens-health

As we finish August and head into the new school year, parents are focusing on keeping their families healthy and happy! MUSC Storm Eye Institute’s Dr. Ed Wilson shares some of his top tips for parents in honor of Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month. Dr. Wilson is a pediatric ophthalmologist, specializing in pediatric cataracts.

Vision Screenings Every 1-2 Years

Children do not always complain when they have trouble seeing and there may be no outward signs of an issue. Parents may not know that their child is having trouble. That is why vision screenings are so important.

Regular vision screenings are available at pediatrician’s offices and often in schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vision screening beginning at age 12 months and continuing every 1-2 years. These are easy and fun, instrument based screenings that provide a pass-fail result. Those that fail are directed to an eye care provider for a full comprehensive eye exam. 

What can parents can look for? If you notice an odd reflection in your child’s pupil or an intermittent crossing of the eyes, schedule an examination at a pediatric ophthalmology office.

Wear Eye Protection

Dr. Wilson recommends that all children playing sports should wear eye protection. Far too many serious eye injuries occur in youth sports including baseball, basketball, soccer and football. These are all preventable. In addition, projectiles from BB guns, paint-ball guns or pellet guns as well as sharp sticks, darts, and knives cause some of the most serious eye injuries in the 10-14 year age group. 70% of the patients with these injuries are boys.

Monitor Difficulty in School

Children with blurred vision often have difficulties in school. When near-sightedness or astigmatism is present, a simple pair of glasses can change a child’s learning achievement dramatically. Dr. Wilson gives a word of caution, however: specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, reading or math problems are not usually caused by eye trouble and are not effectively treated with eye exercises.

Early Detection & Treatment of Cataracts

Catching serious eye problems early can preserve a child’s vision. Cataracts can develop in children as early as birth or as late as the teenage years. On the day of birth, a cataract presents as an absence of the normal red reflex (the red glow in the pupil – like the red eye in a photograph). The red reflex is checked by the pediatrician shortly after delivery. When cataracts develop in toddlers or school-aged children the presentation is often a white or grey-white reflex in the pupil, a new onset eye turn (an eye crossing inward or drifting outward) or a complaint of blurred vision and/or glare in bright light.

Early detection and treatment of cataracts in children is essential since delays can caused permanent vision loss from amblyopia (lazy eye). However, not every childhood cataract is severe enough to block vision. An experienced pediatric ophthalmologist needs to evaluate partial cataracts to see how visually significant the cataracts are. Mild or partial cataracts are often followed closely over time since they can worsen as the eyes continue to grow and develop.

Cataract surgery in children is very different than the surgery performed in elderly adults. Pediatric cataract surgeons are usually pediatric ophthalmologists with a special interest in cataracts. These surgeries are best performed by surgeons who perform these procedures frequently and have a dedicated team of technicians and nurses helping. Older children receive an artificial lens implant at the time of cataract removal. Babies, however, more often wear a special extended-wear contact lens after surgery and receive the permanent lens implant later, at around age 4-6 years.

Schedule Your Child’s Vision Screening at the MUSC Storm Eye Institute

The Storm Eye Institute offers the most comprehensive pediatric eye care services in the state. We have a team of four board-certified, award-winning pediatric ophthalmologists and two full-time pediatric ophthalmology fellows. Call 843-792-2020 or visit MUSC Children's Health to learn more and schedule an appointment for your child.

back to school image
best children's hospitals 2018-2019Are the long days of summer, picnics in the park, trips to beach and family vacations really coming to an end? Yes, it’s August and that signals a return to the classroom for children around the Lowcountry. Easing back into the school year is not always an easy task, but there are some things parents can do ahead of time to help their child have a healthy start to begin the new school year.

To begin, South Carolina law requires that children from 5K through grade 12 have proof of having been vaccinated. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control can provide specific details on requirements and local MUSC Children’s Health pediatricians can assist with administering any immunizations that are lacking.

Additionally, should your child require a sports physical, your pediatrician or MUSC Children’s Health After-Hours Center can help fill this need too. The MUSC Children’s Health After-Hours Centers are located in Mount Pleasant, Summerville and North Charleston. For the convenience of parents, After-Hours care is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from Noon to 7 p.m.

Luke Edmondson, M.D., FAAP, and assistant professor with MUSC Health University Pediatrics in Moncks Corner, recommends your child receive well checks with their pediatrician during the summer so that immunizations are up-to-date before school starts, and parents can address any concerns or special needs their children may have.

Once immunizations and physicals are all in order, it’s also important to think about that first day of school and what can help to make it a little easier.

“Adjusting sleep schedules is a good way to help make sure your child is off to a good start,” said Dr. Edmondson, who recommends adjusting the schedule two weeks before the start of school. He also said weekend sleep should not be altered by more than one hour. Getting enough sleep is important for your child to be successful at school. Often a child who does not receive enough sleep has difficulty with behavior and focus.

Dr. Edmondson suggests that you begin talking about the positive aspects of school to create good anticipation of the first day. Remember that your child will see old friends and meet new ones too. If your child seems nervous about school, address the nervousness before school starts. It also helps to find another child to walk to school or ride on the bus.

If your child is riding the bus, he reminds parents to make sure the child understands the rules on the bus and that the child sit where he/she can see the bus driver, which assures that the driver can see your child.

If the child is walking, and he recommends that a child does not walk alone until they are at least 9 to 11 years of age, he encourages families to have their children walk to school in groups. The more the better, he said. A practice walk gives an opportunity to review the safety rules.

For the child who rides in the car to school, talk to your pediatrician about what kind of car seat is appropriate. He said children should not be out of a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall and that a child should not sit in the front passenger seat until age 13.

It’s not too early to find the right backpack. Dr. Edmondson said the back pack should have padded shoulder straps and a padded back. He urged parents to not overload the backpack and to adjust the weight of items. If a child has many items to carry, a rolling backpack would be a better option.

Help your child get off to a good start by starting your child with a nutritious breakfast. Studies show that children who eat a good breakfast perform better. They will have better concentration and more energy. Some schools even provide breakfast.

Returning your child to homework assignments and developing good study habits can be challenging too. Help your child find an area that is conducive to homework. Identifying a consistent work space that is quiet, without distractions, helps to promote good study.

Dr. Edmondson said some children do better if they address homework right away and others are better off taking a 30 to 60 minute break before they start. He said the key is to establish a routine with a set schedule and know what works best for your child. Enjoy the school year with your child and should you require help in identifying a pediatrician or finding an After-Hours Center, visit The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers more tips for returning to school at

MUSC Children’s Health welcomed Dr. Laura Hollinger in late 2017 as part of the pediatric surgical team and as assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Pediatric Surgery.

The Texas native earned her undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, which is also Dr. Hollinger’s hometown. From there, she earned her doctorate in medicine degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston at McGovern Medical School.

She also completed a two-year research fellowship at the Methodist Hospital Department of Surgery and Research Institute where she studied critical illness and the distant organ effects of kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury. She completed her fellowship in pediatric surgery at the University of Texas with training in both open and minimally invasive approaches to neonatal and pediatric general surgical diseases.

Her enthusiasm for building and repairing things started at a young age, and she says that she thinks her mother knew before she did that she would ultimately choose to become a surgeon. While in medical school, she was mentored by Dr. Barbara Bass, who is one of the female pioneers in general surgery and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Hollinger has been recognized for academic excellence and is the recipient of many awards including the Raleigh Ross Scholar Award from the Texas Surgical Society, the American College of Surgeons Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching, The Methodist Hospital Department of Surgery Resident of the Year Award, and the Excellence in Research Award, Critical Care: American College of Surgeons Surgical Forum.

Her surgical interests include pediatric ECMO support during critical illness, congenital diaphragmatic hernia as well as prenatal diagnosis and intervention. She enjoys working with the MUSC Advanced Fetal Care Center multidisciplinary team and team’s ability to diagnose and offer counseling and therapy for babies with prenatal conditions.

Dr. Hollinger said it’s a thrilling opportunity to be at MUSC Children’s Health and the upcoming Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. She said it’s nice to be able to focus on pediatric patients and their families and their complex needs while providing them with an environment that can be healing. She added the new children’s hospital reflects on the dedication MUSC has to the children of South Carolina.

Providers utilize telehealth to assess patient
Providers utilize telehealth to assess a patient.

J. Antonio Quiros, M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at MUSC Children’s Hospital, has announced the addition of service providers in the Beaufort, S.C. office and plans to add tele-nutrition services in North Charleston beginning in March.

Quiros, who started seeing patients in Beaufort two months ago, said that Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPS) Jennifer Beall and Karen O’Brien will now be available in the Beaufort location twice a month and GI telemedicine also has expanded to two days each month.

Beall and O’Brien are pediatric GI veterans.

Jennifer Beall is a PNP in the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Program department at MUSC. She earned her master’s degree in Pediatric Primary Care at MUSC’s College of Nursing in 1998.  She is board-certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  Jennifer has worked in the Pediatric GI division since September of 2012 and is a member of the Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses.

Jennifer treats children with a variety of general gastrointestinal disorders including celiac disease, chronic abdominal pain, constipation, encopresis, GERD, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and failure to thrive. She has a special clinical interest in the area of bowel management.

Karen O'Brien is a PNP in the Gastroenterology and Nutrition department at MUSC. She earned her master's degree in nursing in pediatric acute and chronic care from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA in 1993. She is board-certified as a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Karen has many years of experience working as a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner then specialized in pediatric gastroenterology.  She is a member of the Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses.

Karen takes care of patients with general gastrointestinal disorders including; celiac disease, failure to thrive, functional gastrointestinal disorders, constipation, encopresis, gastroesophageal reflux, eosinophilic esophagitis, and childhood obesity. She has a particular interest in pediatric nutrition.

Tele-nutrition Services Added in North Charleston

MUSC Children’s Health is expanding access to registered dieticians in the GI Department in mid-March in the North Charleston office with plans to expand so that all outpatient locations will have dietician access.  Services are already available in the Mt. Pleasant and downtown offices.  The added service eliminates the need for patients to travel to multiple locations to receive consultations from their dietician.

Three registered dieticians support GI pediatric patients.  The dieticians will follow the scheduled appointments of the day five days a week and support patients in-person or through telehealth.  Dieticians offer consultations to a variety of patient needs including malnutrition intervention, g-tube follow-ups, food allergies, diet education, motility, liver disease and other gastro maladies.

Rendering of the new comprehensive cardiology floor of the Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital
Rendering of the new comprehensive cardiology floor PCICU corridors and the courtyard waiting area

MUSC Children’s Heart Center has consistently been named one of the top pediatric heart centers in the country by U.S. News & World Report, with a ranking of #11 for 2017-2018. And our 99 percent, 30-day survival rate following complex cardiac surgery ranks us among the best centers in the world and in the top group of U.S. News-ranked elite centers.  

Looking down the road are new changes that will propel us to even greater heights. Two world-class facilities directly impacting cardiac services for patients are under construction now. The new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion is slated to open in fall 2019 in downtown Charleston with the entire third floor dedicated to comprehensive cardiac care.

No other center in the region can provide the scope or depth of care for children with heart problems Including open-heart surgeries, heart transplantation, ventricular-assist device implantation and more. The unit will feature up to 29 cardiac ICU and step-down beds and allows for maximum flexibility so that some beds may be converted from one use to another when needed.

The floor will include catheterization/electrophysiology suites and cardiac-specific operating suites. It also allows for hybrid procedures, combining surgical and catheterization procedures simultaneously for the advanced treatment of children born with congenital heart anomalies.

Inpatient services will be centralized in a single location allowing the medical team to respond more quickly and efficiently to a patient’s changing condition, and patients will benefit with less movement from unit to unit.

In addition to the new children’s hospital, also under construction is the new MUSC Children’s Health Ambulatory Campus in North Charleston. This 100,000-square-foot facility opens in early 2019 and will serve as a hub for outpatient services for cardiac patients in the tri-county area. Among its many amenities are a pediatric outpatient surgical facility and pediatric multispecialty medical office building that will include an urgent care clinic, imaging facility and infusion rooms.


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