Clinic to castle connection leads to fast recovery

A well check or urgent care provider can get pediatric patients to a specialist when they need one

Brightly colored flags line the street leading to the Sanford Children's Castle of Care.

When Abi McMahon was 2 years old, Mom and Dad spotted some pretty unusual bruising.

“It was weird because she was 2 and fell all the time and she was clumsy just as all 2-year-olds usually are,” Abi’s mom Holly McMahon said.

The bruising seemed rather atypical for the typical 2-year-old.

“At first, I thought, ‘I’m sure she fell at day care or something and I just didn’t realize it’ but they kind of then just kept showing up and it was like, again, maybe this is not normal,” she added. “You hear stories of bruises on kiddos and wonder what that might mean so that was a little scary.”

That’s when they called Abi’s Sanford Health pediatrician, Jennifer Haggar, M.D., at the Sanford Children’s 26th & Sycamore Clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

More: Find pediatric care close to home

“I saw some pictures and when I looked at it, I thought the same: I’m worried that this isn’t normal and that something more serious could be going on. So I suggested a visit and we were able to get her here in clinic that day,” Dr. Haggar told Sanford Health News.

“It was really reassuring to get her in that quick,” McMahon said.

Dr. Haggar was able to confirm what she saw in the photos and diagnose Abi with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura – or ITP – which is something that happens when the number of platelets goes significantly down. Platelets are needed in our bodies to prevent bleeding.

Dr. Haggar said, with ITP, there are not enough platelets. As a result, a child can have more bleeding or bruising than normal.

Abi underwent some lab work right in the clinic and showed a low platelet count which, Dr. Haggar said, can be really dangerous putting Abi at risk for serious internal bleeding.

Connecting for care

With a quick phone call to the Sanford Children’s Castle of Care, Dr. Haggar got things moving.

“I was able to call over to our pediatric hematologists, who are really the specialists in blood disorders and anything having to do with platelets. They agreed, this was concerning and we needed to make sure we got Abi treatment to keep her safe,” Dr. Haggar said. “We were able to arrange for her to be directly admitted.”

Through Sanford Children’s and its physician subspecialties, that is the standard of care.

Sanford Health hospitalists and intensivists use a team approach to deliver the best care to our pediatric patients. Experts from all 35 of Sanford’s pediatric specialties are readily available to care for children in the hospital.

“We are really fortunate to have the relationships we have with expert physicians in very specialized areas of pediatric care and that I have the ability to access them when I need it. Someone is on call so I always have a doctor in a certain specialty that I can call and make sure that I get the support that I need whether it’s a general pediatrician to an expert level physician. Having the ability to access that does nothing other than make sure the patient gets exactly what they need,” Dr. Haggar said.

Moving forward with same-day treatment

Abi and her family were quickly on their way to the castle for an IV infusion therapy treatment, one of three options presented.

“Drove her over there. We were there for the night, just kind of chilled and let that infusion therapy happen,” McMahon said. “The next day her counts were already coming back up.”

Abi continued some routine bloodwork monthly for the next six months just to make sure her levels were safe.

Today, five years later, Abi is fully recovered.

“She’s still very active and a still kind-of-clumsy 7-year-old,” McMahon said.

All the while, Mom and Dad have even more peace of mind knowing with any unexpected health concerns, they are in excellent hands.

“This is why we are here,” Dr. Haggar said. “I get to be with a family in really joyful times and I get to be with a family in more challenging times. Most of the time, I get to see them and their medical concerns have been addressed and they’re living a happy, healthy life as Abi is.

“I get to see that part of it too.”

The McMahon family was grateful their pediatrician could connect with her colleagues quickly and put a care plan into motion right away.

“It was just amazing that type of care exists here,” McMahon said.

Learn more about Sanford Children’s pediatric intensivists and other 35 subspecialists, and find a pediatrician near you.  

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Posted In Children's, Family Medicine, Sioux Falls, Specialty Care