TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Families are excited about a new clinic that brings specialist care to children closer to home.
Tessa Okruhlik-Barr and her husband Josh Barr are among them. Their eight-month-old son, Eldon, is full of smiles, even though his short life already includes major surgery.
“We were at the pediatrician, and they thought they heard a heart murmur,” recalls Josh. “The specialist did an ultrasound and then we found out he had a few holes in his heart.”
“I had an emotional reaction for sure,” Tessa said.
Tessa and Josh’s doctors at Stormont Vail in Topeka referred them to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, where Eldon underwent surgery when he was seven months old. Suffice to say, it was hard.
“We’ve never had a child to take back to the hospital after having him and it’s very stressful to think of a child having open heart surgery,” Josh said.
“The first time we saw him (after surgery) there were a lot of wires and tubes,” Tessa said. “It was hard to see him like that.”
But just four weeks later, Eldon is cheering and laughing as he sits with his parents and older sister Adaline in the newly opened Children’s Mercy Clinic in Topeka. The location opened last month in partnership with Stormont.
Tessa and Josh say the trip to Kansas City to see the pediatric cardiology specialists Eldon needed added to the stress of the situation. The new clinic will change that, for them and for other families. Stormont Vail and Children’s Mercy have long partnered for pediatric specialists to see patients in adult clinics in Stormont, but now they have their own space.
Dr. Mary Ann Queen, Children’s Mercy’s vice president for regional and diagnostic clinics, says she’s excited about the expanded partnership. She said the clinic will house specialists in pediatric cardiology, endocrinology and neurology, with plans to add telehealth services for other areas and the possibility of expanding so more families can avoid visiting. at KC.
“The campus is bigger (in Kansas City). You’re gonna have to do more freeway driving. Parking is a bit more expensive, so letting them come here will probably save most families half a day,” Queen said. “Caring for your children is a priority, but as it happens at the same time, so we want them to be able to spend as little time as possible so they can do all the important things they need to do. ”
With Jobs and Adaline already spinning them in different directions, the Barrs can’t wait to head closer to home for Eldon’s follow-up appointments.
“We’re small business owners and it’s really hard for me to get by,” Josh said. “I want to be there and so it’s really good because I can go between (work) appointments and make time to go during the day. I missed some of those important appointments because it’s just too hard to go to all of them.
Tessa agreed. She said that while she can go to dates on her own, it’s nice to have her husband’s support – and a second pair of ears to pick up all the information they receive.
As for Eldon, a successful operation allows him to envisage a bright and healthy future.
“He’s a tough little guy, and I know he’ll be able to take that and transition into whatever he wants to do and he’ll be around for a really long time,” Tessa said.
The Children’s Mercy Clinic is located in the former Midtown Express Care Clinic at SW 9th and Mulvane.
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