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Overview of Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Sallie Permar gives an overview of the specialties and services for families within the Department of Pediatrics. She shares how the department is committed to providing exceptional family-centered care and support for patients, cutting-edge research in child health, and educating the next generation of pediatricians and physician-scientists. She gives an overview of the twelve subspecialty divisions within the department that include dozens of programs, services, clinics and outpatient care sites across NYC. She discusses some of the latest developments in patient care including online scheduling and telemedicine options. She also highlights the affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital and the department's community outreach efforts across the NYC area. 

Learn more about Dr. Sallie Permar  

Overview of Department of Pediatrics
Featured Speaker:
Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D.

Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D is an eminent physician-scientist who focuses on the treatment and prevention of neonatal viral infections. She serves as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Pediatrician-in-Chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.  She is also the Nancy C. Paduano Professor in Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Professor of Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at the Weill Cornell Graduate School. 

Learn more about Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D.

Overview of Department of Pediatrics

Melanie Cole, MS (Host): There's no handbook for your child's health, but we do have a podcast featuring world-class clinical and research physicians covering everything from your child's allergies to zinc levels. Welcome to Kids Health Cast by Weill Cornell Medicine. I'm Melanie Cole. And joining me today to give us an overview of services for children in the Department of Pediatrics is Dr. Sallie Permar. She's the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Pediatrician in Chief at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital.

Dr. Permar, thank you for joining us again today. I'd like you to just jump right in with an overview of the services offered for children and families at Weill Cornell Medicine's Department of Pediatrics.

Sallie Permar, MD: Thank you so much for asking me that question because I love to talk about what it is we do for children and families here at Weill Cornell Komansky Children's Hospital. So, we are a multi-specialty pediatric practice that does everything from primary care to treating the most complicated, rarest of diseases. And we do that through having a group of very committed and collaborative pediatric specialists who are trained in specific areas of excellence for children's health that not only work as individual doctors and teams, but also work together to provide the most comprehensive care for all children, depending on whatever need they have for their health.

So, some of those examples of programs that we bring together is areas like Food Allergy and Intolerance Program; Inflammatory Bowel Disease program, which not only tries to treat inflammatory bowel disease after it's diagnosed, but also to treat it at a very early stage and diagnose it at a very early stage to prevent it's further development. We have programs like aerodigestive program that brings together our GI doctors, our ENT, nose and throat doctors, and our pulmonary doctors and sleep experts all in one setting so that children that have any kind of problems that involve eating, sleeping, swallowing, breathing can all see the specialist together. So, these are the types of programs that we're able to put together because of the complexity of our expertise as well as the collaborative nature.

Melanie Cole, MS: It's really a comprehensive approach. And Dr. Permar, for parents listening, they say, "Oh, there's all these specialties. I'm going to be running around from place to place to see specialists and specialists." Can you tell us how you all work together and how this is not the case that they don't have to run around to many separate places and that interdisciplinary approach?

Sallie Permar, MD: That's our goal, is to be able to simplify the care, especially for patients that end up with more than one specialist that's needed. And we look for opportunities and even patients and families can bring us these opportunities where it would be helpful to bring specialists together. The way that we do that is, first, we have a very comprehensive group practice that is in the Helmsley Tower building, right next to the hospital. On the third floor, over 10 of our specialties are located there collaboratively. This is, of course, excellent for the collaboration, that if you needed to see a specialist, you could hop right over or even stay in the same room to see the same specialist. And we've just added on evening hours, and even Saturday hours at one of our locations in order to make sure we can serve all families.

But then also, when we do have providers that are not necessarily located in the same place for their practice, the goal of this is to coordinate the time in which you are seen by those practices, and then bring the physicians together and the teams together on the back end after the initial evaluations by these different levels of expertise are done to make a care plan. And so, that's done through group meetings, the power of Zoom that we've all come to know and love post pandemic really allows us to do this. That's one of the beauties that has come out of pandemic technology, is being able to quickly jump on a face to face call with multiple providers and decide on a care plan that's best for one of our patients.

Melanie Cole, MS: Such hardworking healthcare professionals you all are. When you speak about supporting families and navigating this healthcare system, which can be dizzying and frightening for parents, especially with children that are going through illness, is there somebody that helps them set up, like a nurse navigator, somebody that helps them set up all these appointments? How does that all work for the families?

Sallie Permar, MD: Yes. So, healthcare, as you mentioned, can be like a maze for families. And we look all the time for ways that we can reduce those barriers. And so, some of the ways that we've put in place, starting from very broad, is to make sure that when you call our clinic that you get knowledgeable person on the other side that not only knows all the specialties that we have, but then can even put you into a specialist at the call center who knows more about a certain type of specialty.

So, really having the people on the phone that can not only make the appointments, but also get you to the right physician team or the right care team. Then also, online scheduling is a new area that we are moving fast and furiously into, because this is the way that people want to access healthcare, is to be able to sit at home at whatever time of night and think, "Oh yeah, I was supposed to make that doctor's appointment," and be able to do it right then, not have to wait until the next morning.

Then, we also have health navigators that can be potentially connected to a family to, again, help them with where are the different teams that I may need to see more than one of? Social work support is available not only for our outpatient practices, but also to connect our inpatient areas because we often are seeing in followup someone who did have a hospitalization and maybe oftentimes there are new specialists that you're seeing after a hospitalization that you didn't have before.

And so, the social worker resources are able to connect both the inpatient and the outpatient world for our patients. And then, we also do some other creative thing that really leverage the families that have used our services in the past and know our system well. We have parent-to-parent coaches. We have simulation discharge program in which patients that are leaving the hospital with new technologies, like a feeding tube or an intravenous line, the parents are trained on that by other parents, using simulation, using a mannequin that has a feeding tube, et cetera. And this is really brought to us from a close collaboration with our Family Advisory Council, which is quite advanced and really we're known for across the country for that great collaboration.

And finally, our Child Life Services are just invaluable. They are individuals who are specifically trained in helping children go through treatment and a healthcare setting, and understand what's happening and be able to take their mind away from what is happening as best possible to distract them from what may be undergoing for part of their treatment. These are invaluable people that we have stationed not only on our clinics and in our units, but in places like radiology, where it's scary to go into an MRI tube as a child. And so, video goggles are something that they are newly really enamored by for children. So, these are the types of team members that we have in order to make the care as seamless as possible.

Melanie Cole, MS: I love everything you just said, and the parent-to-parent coaching is just an excellent idea. How do you engage, Dr. Permar, with the local community to promote what you're telling us here about today? What initiatives or programs are in place to address preventive medicine, preventive care, pediatric wellness, vaccinations? Tell us about some of the outreach.

Sallie Permar, MD: Sure. First, I'll just start with some of the things that we creatively like to do with our patient's families and bringing other families together. We have things like nights where we get together, people can sign up to be part of a Food Allergy and Intolerance Program where we bring together patients and parents and give them, cooking tips, how to make allergy-free food items, make it fun for children, make it fun for families. So, this is one way that we're engaging families. That is often through our new tele-resources, but also in person.

So in addition to connecting to our patient families, we also do a number of outreach opportunities within the local community, and local being both around our neighborhood, but also the greater New York City. One of the examples is we have a close collaboration, longstanding, with the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, where we have a program for parents of children enrolled in Head Start, that focuses on nutrition and exercise. Our team is on their advisory board and lead many of the programs for parents to learn more about health topics.

We also have a number of pipeline and pathways programs for careers in medicine. So, this is one, I think, most exciting programs that many of our physicians, nurses, and trainees are working in, is engaging with local high schools in programs such as our Health Professionals in Training, where we spend a few weeks out of the year attending an after-school program at their location and on their high school location, and then also inviting them to our campus for shadowing opportunities in a healthcare setting, especially over the summer.

Those are really exciting. Bringing new people into the pediatrics profession is something that is not only greatly needed to maintain the health of our children, but also is really enjoyable for those of us who've been in the field for many years. We also have other outreach programs such as a summer camp for children that have been in the burn unit that allow them a fun getaway weekend with other children who may have experienced similar health problems, and programs in East Harlem, called the K-PALS program, which is a nutrition and exercise program that really our residents, our training doctors have led over the years. So, these are ways that we'd love to engage with the community to improve health through knowledge and through engagement with children and families.

Melanie Cole, MS: Dr. Permar, you've given us so much great information today, and you're helping parents by educating all of us on what these services are and how easily navigatable they are and how much your team all helps everybody. As we wrap up, can you just summarize the key takeaways, what you want parents and families to know about receiving care for their children at Weill Cornell Medicine?

Sallie Permar, MD: Yes. Weill Cornell Medicine, which is partnered with New York Presbyterian and Komansky Children's Hospital, functions as New York's children's hospital. We do that with partners across the city through New York Presbyterian, including at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in Columbia. We essentially are the largest group of healthcare providers for children. And so when you see the New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell logos, you know that those are the specialists that are most equipped in the city to take care of every complex and even simple need for children.

So, we are New York's Children's Hospital, so that is the one that, of course, I would recommend to families, but the reason why is because we can offer comprehensive and tailored care for children, and not fragmenting child's care by potentially using more than one system for various doctors has a lot of advantages. It can offer the seamless collaboration amongst a specialist, and even when expertise is needed that may not even be on our campus. We can quickly provide you that opportunity to see our colleagues. If you're coming from Brooklyn, if you're coming from Queens, it may be that you're better served at a specific location for potentially one of the rare diseases that we treat, and we will make sure that you're connected to that expertise. And so, it is the comprehensiveness that we can offer and the tailored and seamless care of a large system that serves children.

Melanie Cole, MS: Thank you so much, doctor, for joining us today and sharing your incredible expertise for families with children that are suffering from chronic illness or any kind of unwell situation, and thank you again for joining us. And Weill Cornell Medicine continues to see our patients in person as well as through video visits, and you can be confident of the safety of your appointments at Weill Cornell Medicine.

That concludes today's episode of Kids Health Cast. We'd like to invite our audience to download, subscribe, rate, and review Kids Health Cast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeart, and Pandora. And for more health tips, please visit and search podcasts. And don't forget to check out Back to Health. We have so many great podcasts there as well. I'm Melanie Cole. Thank you so much for tuning in today.

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