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New pediatric center brings top-notch doctors to Greenwich

November 16, 2018

GREENWICH — Greenwich children who need medical attention will now have better access to top care with the official opening of a new pediatric specialty center and outpatient clinic in town.

The office opened in space at 500 W. Putnam Ave. in a collaboration between Greenwich Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. The specialty center can handle allergy issues, cardiology, craniofacial surgery, neurology, respiratory issues, neurosurgery and oncology with top specialists on hand. The clinic can handle 4,500 child patients a year, many of whom will be underinsured or uninsured.

“Take it from me, I’m a grandfather and I love the fact that we have these services right here in Greenwich and my grandchildren have the opportunity to take advantage of it,” said Norman Roth, president and CEO of Greenwich Hospital. By teaming with Yale New Haven Hospital, it created the most comprehensive pediatric services in the region.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday night, even though the facilities have been open and seeing patients for a week. The crowd at the ceremony included some special guests — patients who have benefitted from the care they received from the Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.

Kristin Updike, a Greenwich mom, took part in the ceremony with her children Grayson, 6, and Harper, 3. Harper’s health challenges caused a major burden, but Updike said that working with Yale New Haven and Greenwich Hospital meant so much to the family. To see other families gain access to that care made Updike happy, calling it a “gift to the community.”

“The care my children received and the support I received went beyond doctor’s appointments and office hours,” Updike said. “I had a team of nurses I could call any time, and I had access to doctors to get us through the scarier times. I remember many late night phone calls and email exchanges, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Kids will feel comfortable in the new center, with its bright color scheme and art on the walls. There is an interactive video screen in the waiting room, with games and televisions and an area where families can sit down, relax and enjoy a snack. The challenge was to create something bright and light but not childish so older children would feel comfortable there, too, said Cynthia Sparer, Yale New Haven’s senior vice president of operations and executive director of the children’s hospital.

“We want kids to still be kids when they’re here,” Sparer said. “We have what are known as child life specialists. Their job is to gear this toward a particular age range so we can have the right atmosphere for everyone from a toddler to a school age child to an adolescent and beyond. Often times it’s not just the children who are scared. Parents can be scared to death, too, and we want to be able to meet their needs.”

Greenwich resident Meg McQuillan attended with her 13-year-old son Luke and 15-year-old daughter Genna. When Luke was 8, a sudden fall led to a diagnosis of a brain tumor. After beating cancer, he is now a thriving student at Eastern Middle School. Luke also gives back with fundraisers for other kids undergoing treatment at Yale New Haven Hospital.

The local office will help a lot of families, they said.

“There were times when not only myself but other families that we met had to go up to Yale in the middle of winter in a snowstorm to get needed life-saving treatment like transfusions and chemotherapy,” Meg McQuillan said. “That can be disruptive to your whole family — and to have it right here is extraordinary.”

Construction took place over the past year for the $3.5 million project, which was three years in the planning.

The partnership between Greenwich Hospital and Yale New Haven was highlighted throughout the ceremony.

“This truly is the product of a collaboration,” said Sparer. “We are able to use the great talent of the doctors and nurses and the rest of the team to bring pediatric, medical and surgical specialists here to Greenwich Hospital. The building was developed by Greenwich Hospital, and we worked together to produce this. Children from around this area and the broader geography, instead of having to travel up to New Haven or go to Manhattan, can see world-class doctors from Yale right here in Greenwich.”

The doctors will not work in shifts; they are committed to seeing their patients in Greenwich and putting their primary responsibilities in town, Sparer said. Local pediatricians can refer young patients to the doctors in the new office, and families will feel confident receiving care there.

The center is one of seven throughout the state for Yale New Haven Hospital. The Greenwich center is based on a model that’s worked in Norwalk, New Haven, Old Saybrook and Trumbull, Sparer said.

Greenwich Hospital had previously worked with Yale to establish 24/7 pediatric emergency medical care, making it the only hospital in the region with the service. Sparer said there were already 44 Yale physicians working at Greenwich Hospital.

Overall, 15 medical and surgical specialties will be a part of the new center. The local office means less travel and less strain on families during difficult times. A child diagnosed with cancer might have to undergo surgery and then go through weeks if not months of chemotherapy, Sparer said.

“Up until now, that family would have had to travel Interstate 95 to go to get those chemotherapy sessions done,” she said. “Now we have an infusion center and the oncologists right here in this center. They can get all their chemotherapy right close to home.”

The new center will serve the entire region. Dana Marnane, vice president of public relations for Greenwich Hospital, said 53 percent of its patients come from Westchester County, N.Y.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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