Your Questions Answered- Specialty medical services just for kids


PeaceHealth experts address current health issues and topics impacting our amazing Florence community

Dec. 5, 2022 — In this column, PeaceHealth experts address current health issues and topics impacting our amazing Florence community. We hope you find it informative. If you have any suggestions for topics, please send them to Dr. Willy Foster at [email protected].

The Pediatric Specialties team at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield celebrated an important milestone in November—our 10th anniversary. For the past decade we have served children from throughout the region, including Florence and other communities along the coast and southern Oregon.

Families often say our services are one of the area’s best-kept secrets. I’m looking forward to letting that secret out by answering some of the most common questions about our program.

What falls under the umbrella of Pediatric Specialties?

A pediatrician or family medicine physician provides general care for children. A pediatric specialist has had additional education and training to treat children needing care in their particular specialty, such as pediatric surgery or cardiology.

What specialists are on your team?

We have three pediatric surgeons, two pediatric cardiologists and three child life specialists. We work in tandem with the hospital-based pediatric specialists who already were serving children at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, including neonatologists, pediatric hospitalists and pediatric anesthesiologists. We also work closely with pediatric nurses, surgical technologists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, pharmacists, radiology technicians and occupational and physical therapists who help take care of our patients.

What specialty medical services for kids are available at Sacred Heart at RiverBend?

We care for newborns to adolescents. We have operated on babies staying in RiverBend’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as soon as right after birth, who have been born with abnormalities of the lungs, GI tract, ovaries or testes. RiverBend is the only hospital in the region offering minimally invasive surgery for newborns, children and adolescents through adulthood; pediatric cancer surgery; emergency pediatric surgery, and a Pectus Center. Our Pectus Center provides specialized treatment to repair chest wall abnormalities in children, as well as adults, from the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Georgia.

What other services does PeaceHealth Sacred Heart at RiverBend offer to make kids feel more comfortable being in the hospital?

Our child life specialists help our patients and their families cope with trauma, loss and illness and navigate their hospital stay. Over the years generous community donors have helped provide additional resources for our patients and their families, including the Heartfelt House patient family guesthouse on the RiverBend campus and kid-friendly makeovers of radiology suites and operating rooms. Our pediatric patients can even drive a toy car to the OR for their procedure, thanks to the generosity of Oregon Community Credit Union.

How many children does the Pediatric Specialties team see?

We see thousands of children in our outpatient clinics. Our pediatric surgeons perform about 1,000 surgeries a year, and our pediatric cardiologists see about 3,000 new patients a year.

What are some of the most common conditions or illnesses that your team treats?

An appendectomy, or removal of the appendix, is the most frequent emergency operation our surgeons perform. We average close to 100 of those a year. We operate on many babies with congenital conditions. An example would be surgery to repair a hernia, when an internal organ protrudes from the muscle wall that normally contains it. In our Pectus Center, we have performed over 300 surgeries on teenagers and adults with pectus excavatum, a condition in which the chest caves in, putting pressure on the heart and other internal organs.  

What regions does the pediatrics specialties team serve?

We have treated patients from Albany, along the coast, down to Medford, Klamath Falls, east of the Cascades including Bend, Prineville and Redmond, and parts of northern California.  

Do you see many children from Florence and other coastal communities? What kinds of services have they needed?

Yes, we have treated kids who live in coastal communities, as well as kids who are vacationing on the coast. Children from the coast have needed the same range of services as children from other areas. Every summer, some children are admitted with abdominal injuries, including spleen rupture, after dune buggy accidents.

Does your team ever come to Florence to provide services?

Our pediatric cardiologists have monthly outreach clinics in Florence and Coos Bay. Our specialists also have clinics in Corvallis, Bend, and Roseburg. For more information, ask your child’s doctor for a referral or call 541-222-6135.

Dr. Kimberly Ruscher is a pediatric surgeon at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.