Braidon Lantz is a high-energy, spunky 7-year-old with a knack for being the center of attention.
But that’s thanks largely to specialized care and treatment that he recently received from pediatricians at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City as he recovered from illnesses brought on by a tick bite, his parents said.
“He now has the opportunity to live a healthy life,” said his mother, Becky Lantz.
Some of that specialized care is now available in Joplin. Freeman Health System and Children’s Kansas City, an extension of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, have established a specialty pediatric clinic on the Freeman campus, leaders from both hospital groups announced Tuesday.
The 1,800-square-foot clinic will provide seven pediatric specialties: cardiology, endocrinology/diabetes, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, nephrology, rheumatology and telemedicine. The clinic at 3333 McIntosh Circle Drive, Suite 6, has five exam rooms and a child-friendly waiting room.
“By partnering with Children’s Kansas City, we provide unprecedented specialized pediatric care to those we value most — our children,” said Paula Baker, Freeman president and chief executive officer. “This affiliation brings with it a new era in health care, allowing families whose children are sick or injured to gain access locally to nationally recognized, award-winning pediatric care.”
Children’s Kansas City has done outreach in the Joplin area for more than 20 years, frequently sending its specialists to Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas to provide care for local patients. Hundreds of families per year also travel from the region to the Kansas City hospital for treatment.
The new permanent clinic is designed to be an added resource for Joplin-area families, its leaders said.
“We’ve heard from both families and physicians that their patients want access to our specialty services without having to travel to Kansas City,” said Marshaun Butler, vice president of Children’s Kansas City. “We are committed to meeting the needs of children in Joplin and Southwest Missouri in partnership with Freeman.”
The clinic will not be a five-day-per-week operation, as the Kansas City-based specialists will be in Joplin only on certain days of each month, said Teresa Malaun, clinics director. That schedule will be posted online at childrensmercy.org/joplin. Admission will be by appointment only and will be handled by the Kansas City office, as it is currently structured, Malaun said.
The clinic was supported with a donation from the Coleman Family Foundation, based in Pittsburg, Kan.
Braidon, who lives in Neosho with his parents, is one of the hospital system’s success stories. He was bitten by a tick last spring and was referred to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City after failing to respond to medication prescribed by a local pediatrician. His mother said he was listless, lethargic and increasingly sensitive to noise.
“For my husband and I, it was like the light had been sucked out of our lives,” she said.
Physicians at Children’s Mercy treated Braidon for two tick-borne diseases, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. He also was diagnosed with and is still being treated for pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, and Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands, his mother said.
But thanks to the opening of the clinic, those treatments — which consist largely of regular blood work — can now be done in Joplin instead of in Kansas City, Lantz said. Braidon will no longer have to miss school for long periods of time, and the family can cut back on its travel expenses, she said.
“This clinic will mean that families like us will have greater access to the specialty care that our children so desperately need,” she said.
CHILDREN’S MERCY HOSPITALS AND CLINICS is a free-standing children’s hospital not affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy network that operates hospitals and clinics in Joplin, Neosho, Carthage and other Southwest Missouri locations.