Generosity makes pediatrics possible

Sara Stevens, like her older sister Lauryn, has golden blond hair and matching blue eyes. Both sisters, two years apart in age, enjoy princesses, mermaids, swimming, and camping with their family. Both girls were born two months premature, each weighing just over three pounds.

Sara was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a life threatening birth defect in which the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that is responsible for breathing) does not form properly, allowing abdominal organs into the chest cavity and preventing lung growth. Upon delivery, Sara’s family was told that she had only a 50% chance of survival. Just five days old, Sara underwent a surgery to fix the hole in her diaphragm.

St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise cared for Sara for the first two months of her life. Sara was then sent home tethered to an oxygen tank, attached to an oximeter, and on several medications. She was home only six days when she became ill with RSV and was airlifted back to St. Luke’s Children’s.

After 10 days in the hospital, the family received the news that Sara could return home. Despite the good news, there were many concerns regarding Sara’s condition including pulmonary hypertension, the effects of high altitude on a baby’s lung development, and potential for illness due to a severely compromised immune system.

Upon their arrival home to the Wood River Valley, pediatrician Dr. Bart Adrian welcomed the Stevens family with open arms. In order to give Sara the best care possible, Dr. Adrian was in close contact with her pediatric cardiologist, pulmonologist, and surgeon every day while she was hospitalized, and frequently throughout her first year of life.

“I never felt that I was compromising Sara’s care because Dr. Adrian was so very thorough and genuinely concerned for her well-being. He always worked with me; I don’t know what we would have done without him,” says Haley Stevens, Sara’s mom.

“The doctors worked beautifully together which made things so much easier for our family.” Sara continues to see Dr. Adrian for her pediatric care.

Pediatric services have returned to the Wood River Valley thanks to generous community philanthropy and a partnership with the medical center. In July 2012, the hospital hired Dr. Adrian, a board certified pediatrician, to provide one day per week of general pediatric services in close collaboration with family practice physicians. Prior to Dr. Adrian, many families with young children with complex health issues left the Wood River Valley for medical care.

The Stevens family is very familiar with the difficulty of traveling for pediatric care. Their older daughter Lauryn was also born two months premature, weighing in at three pounds, two ounces. Without a pediatrician in the valley, the family frequently traveled to Boise for Lauryn’s medical care. Haley recalls that trips with her young child were both costly and stressful—it’s a long drive with a baby in a car seat. Having a local pediatrician saves the Stevens frequent trips for care.

“It’s been nice to have Dr. Adrian just down the road,” Haley says. “He is incredibly kind and has a special way with my kids. He takes the time to listen to my concerns and has the expertise to assure me that things are OK.”

Today, rather than traveling for doctor appointments, both girls spend their time playing together, enjoying a happy and healthy childhood in the valley.