Published on August 28, 2017

Because Kids are Special: Pediatric Specialty Services Available in Tupelo

TUPELO, Miss.—Nine-year-old Kellan Huggins of Rienzi recently had his mother quite puzzled. “He was really, really thirsty and going to the bathroom a lot,” says his mother, Samantha Taylor. “”It started on a Saturday, and on Monday I took him to our doctor’s office in Corinth.” When the doctor checked Kellan’s blood sugar, it was too high for the meter to read.

“I had been Googling the symptoms for two days and it kept pointing to diabetes,” Taylor says, “but it was like my mind wouldn’t wrap around that. My Dad had died about two weeks prior, and I thought his behavior was some type of reaction to that.” The doctor sent Kellan and his mother straight to the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital in Tupelo to see pediatric endocrinologist Sara Silver, D.O.

“When we got to Tupelo, they immediately started him on IV insulin, ran more tests and gave fluids because he was dehydrated,” Taylor says of her son’s diagnosis with diabetes. “Someone from the Diabetes Treatment Center came and spent a full day in Kellan’s room training us.”

Kellan stayed in the hospital through Thursday because it took several days to get his blood sugar regulated. At first Kellan was getting eight or nine insulin shots per day, but he recently began wearing an insulin pump that delivers small doses of insulin continually.

Looking back, his mother now sees some red flags she missed. “Before that weekend in June, he would get really tired, but I just thought it was because it was so hot outside,” she said. “As soon as he was diagnosed and we started insulin, you could really see a difference. He’s doing wonderful.”

Diabetes is a chronic illness that will require a lifetime of close monitoring by a specialist like Dr. Silver. Fortunately, she and other pediatric specialists see children five days a week at the Children’s of Mississippi clinic in Tupelo. Children’s of Mississippi is the umbrella organization that includes all pediatric care affiliated with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, including Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.

“The Tupelo clinic is unbelievably helpful,” Taylor said, noting that the 45-minute commute from Rienzi is much more convenient than driving to Jackson.

Pediatric Orthopedics

Twelve-year-old Anna Holcomb of Pontotoc was born with cerebral palsy and sees several pediatric specialists affiliated with Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson. In 2015 Anna became a patient of Wade Shrader, M.D., a Pontotoc native and pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who sees patients at Children’s of Mississippi’s Tupelo clinic once a month.

In May 2016, she required leg surgery at Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson. “She would walk with her knees turned in,” explained her mother, Crystal Holcomb. “As she grows, her knees wouldn’t have been able to hold her. She fell a good bit before surgery.”

“Dr. Shrader has triplets, two of whom have cerebral palsy,” Holcomb said. “His son had a similar surgery, and knowing he had personal experience made me, as a mother, feel better. He is very compassionate and understanding of what Anna is going through.”

After recovering from surgery, Anna spent three weeks in inpatient rehabilitation at Batson Children’s Hospital. Following a second surgery in December, she began going to NMMC’s Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation for therapy five days a week. She progressed from a requiring a wheelchair to using a walker and now only wears leg braces. In March she was able to resume therapeutic horseback riding, her favorite activity.

“She is very determined for sure,” her mother said. “She has pushed herself very hard to do as well as she has.”

Her mother is equally determined to get Anna the best care available, and having a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon available in Tupelo certainly helps. “It’s very nice not to have to travel three hours one way, especially for a child,” she said.

Pediatric Cardiology

Ashley Ernst of Caledonia says at first she had no indication that anything was wrong with her daughter, Zoey Woods, born Dec. 13, 2016 in Columbus. After a bit, she noticed Anna’s labored breathing. “She was breathing so hard it was like she was panting,” her mother says.

At her first checkup, Zoey’s pediatrician discovered two holes in her heart and referred her to a pediatric cardiologist who sees patients full time at the Children’s of Mississippi clinic in Tupelo. “One hole was tiny and one was medium to large,” Ernst says. “After the first few visits in Tupelo, both holes had grown and were large.”

It was difficult for Zoey to gain weight because she couldn’t coordinate her breathing and sucking and, therefore, wasn’t eating enough. When she was about 6 weeks old, doctors inserted a feeding tube. “They wanted to wait until she weighed 10 to 12 pounds before doing surgery,” Ernst said, “but her lungs were failing.”

At 2 months old, Zoey underwent heart surgery at Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson to repair the holes. Surgery went well and now Zoey is growing like a weed.

“She’s getting chubby now,” Ernst says.

Her mother is grateful that Zoey can continue to see a pediatric cardiologist in Tupelo as needed. “We live so far from Jackson, but we’re less than an hour from Tupelo,” she said. “We really appreciate everything they did—if it wasn’t for the people in Tupelo, she wouldn’t be like she is now.”

Children’s of Mississippi offers pediatric specialty services in Tupelo, including cardiology, child development, critical care (inpatient), dietetics, endocrinology, general surgery and orthopedics, and additional services will be added. For an appointment with Children’s of Mississippi in Tupelo, call 1- 855-984-KIDS (5437).

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