September 2, 2014

The Gulfshore's Top Doctors 2013

Our annual list of Castle Connolly's picks for the most recommended physicians in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties.

(page 2 of 5)

Using the Team Approach for HIV-positive Kids

NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ILL. AND YET, SOMEHOW, THERE IS AN extra sense of misfortune when the sufferer is a child. But for Dr. Stephanie Stovall of the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida at HealthPark Medical Center, the tragedy is that many of her patients have never known a life without disease: They were born HIV positive.

Stovall, a pediatric infectious disease specialist (which includes things like pediatric HIV/AIDS, meningitis, pneumonia, infection control, etc.), is on the front lines of treating some of the area’s sickest children. And because of the complexity of the diseases and their treatment, Stovall looks to make the most of every visit.

“Our HIV patients in pediatrics are very different, for the most part, from adult patients because most of these children have been infected since birth,” Stovall says. “They have to go through the process of growing and maturing and developing with their disease, and they have to make the transition from having the parent totally responsible for getting them over their illness, just as a parent would for a child with an ear infection or pneumonia, but they have to then transition to being adolescents and young adults who are in charge of the same illness that they’ve had to live with their entire life.”

Because of that, she and her staff have incorporated a team approach. The patient is seen by a case manager, the doctor, a nurse, the pharmacist, a social worker and a nutritionist—all in one visit. It can literally be a lifesaver for patients and offers peace of mind for their parents.

“We are able to approach the entire process with them at each visit so that there is nothing left out,” Stovall says.

And though there is a steady stream of new drugs for treating diseases such as HIV, it’s a waiting game for Stovall and her patients.

“We always see new things coming down the pike,” she says. “But children are normally the last to get the new drugs that are coming out because studies are primarily done on adults and are approved for adults. We kind of have to wait.”

—Michael Korb

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