Upon examining four-day-old Alice at her newborn health screen, pediatrician Harbir Juj, MD, MPH noticed signs of jaundice, a condition newborns are particularly susceptible to.
Babies become jaundiced when bilirubin, produced naturally by the body, builds up faster than their liver can break down and excrete from the body.
Jaundice – a yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes that is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood
Alice seemed perfectly healthy when she was born, but bilirubin levels naturally rise over the first four days of life. This makes it especially important for newborns to be seen in the office within a few days of being discharged from the hospital.
“When examining newborn babies for the first time, we pay close attention to their color, weight, feeding and stooling patterns. This helps us determine if a blood test needs to be done to quantify the jaundice,” says Dr. Juj.
“As new parents, we were freaking out! But Dr. Juj being so knowledgeable and on top of it was very comforting.” – Alice’s dad
Even though treating jaundice is safe and effective, Dr. Juj was sensitive to the concern Alice’s parents were feeling.
“Jaundice is quite common, but it is still a super big deal when it happens to your brand new baby,” says Dr. Juj. “I had a strong feeling that Alice’s bilirubin level was going to be elevated, so before they left for the lab, we discussed the possibility of Alice needing treatment and the expected course for this.”
The lab results came back reporting that Alice had jaundice at a high level. Since this was Alice’s parents’ first visit to the pediatrician with Alice, the news was a lot to take.
“Alice’s parents were amazing. Despite being so tired, exhausted and overwhelmed they asked appropriate questions and were so supportive of one another. This definitely helped when they got the call later that day about Alice’s bilirubin results.”
Helping parents find the right provider
Because Alice’s parents chose a pediatrician prior to Alice’s birth, they had the peace of mind of knowing who would care for their baby once she was born.
“We knew exactly what to expect,” says dad. “Dr. Juj knew Alice by name and we felt very comfortable with her.”
In order to help expecting parents find the right pediatrician, Pediatrics Northwest offer a unique type of appointment, called a Newborn Talk.
This complimentary one-on-one time gives expecting parents the opportunity to discuss their philosophy on health care and ask questions with their provider of choice.
A friend recommended Dr. Juj, and Alice’s parents met her during their Newborn Talk appointment before Alice was born.
“We fell in love with Dr. Juj’s compassion for children and liked that Pediatrics Northwest has several office locations as well as weekend appointments. Right there we made our decision.” – Alice’s mom
Because a large amount of time is spent at the pediatrician’s office, especially during the first two years of life, Dr. Juj stresses the importance of finding a provider with whom parents feel comfortable.
“I believe the goal of the Newborn Talk is for parents to find the right fit, and make sure they find a pediatrician they have a connection with. It is important to find a doctor you trust will take the very best care of your child and family,” says Dr. Juj.
Your family’s medical home
During the Newborn Talk appointment, Dr. Juj informs parents that because Pediatrics Northwest is a private practice, the providers are able to focus their care on the idea of a medical home.
“A medical home is where one patient has one doctor that follows them throughout their life course. This is deeply important to us,” says Dr. Juj.
This allows providers and staff to form long-term relationships with the families in their care.
“Kayla, my medical assistant, is wonderful at this,” says Dr. Juj. “I’ve had parents often comment to me about how great it was to hear that she remembered a story or event they shared with her at a past visit. As providers, we want our patients to know all of us at Pediatrics Northwest truly care about them.”
Alice’s parents appreciate the way Dr. Juj is direct and kind in expressing what is best for Alice.
“She genuinely cares for our family,” says mom.
Dr. Juj gave Alice’s parents a referral for phototherapy. Within 24 hours of phototherapy, Alice’s bilirubin levels returned to normal and they were able to end the treatment.
Phototherapy – a fluorescent light that helps convert the bilirubin to a water soluble form that the body can excrete
“She responded beautifully,” says Dr. Juj. “I saw them in the office a couple days later. Alice’s appearance and behavior looked great.”
Today Alice is a happy and healthy baby, cooing and smiling often. Dr. Juj enjoys being a part of Alice’s life and watching her grow. She also recognizes that high-quality care comes from a partnership between her and the parents.
“It puts a smile on my face every time I see them on my schedule. You can feel the love and support both parents have for Alice and each other. It’s always beautiful to know a child is growing up in a loving environment,” says Dr. Juj.