Top Doctors 2015
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(page 11 of 15)
Dr. Shannon Calvert, Top Doctors winner for Pediatrics (General), is based at Citizens Memorial Hospital and has been helping children for a decade. But in the last year, she has helped one little girl fight for her life. By Rose Marthis
Dr. Shannon Calvert has worked with baby Zoey Paris, who was born with a congenital heart condition, since July 2014.
Jennifer Paris’s daughter, Zoey, spent the first four months of her life in the hospital.
At her 36-week ultrasound, Paris was told Zoey had a heart condition, but the doctors couldn’t narrow down the issue just yet. She was sent to specialists in Springfield and Kansas City and got ultrasound after ultrasound with no definite results.
At 38 weeks, Zoey was born with Ebstein’s anomaly, a congenital heart condition where valves do not form correctly and can cause incorrect blood flow in the heart and the lungs.
Doctors told Paris there was a possibility Zoey wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own. But Zoey inhaled and exhaled normally, and that offered hope.
Zoey fought day after day, surviving emergency heart surgery at three weeks old and the insertion of a gastrostomy tube because she couldn’t eat on her own. After four months, Paris brought Zoey home to Bolivar, and Dr. Shannon Calvert became Zoey’s primary caretaker in July 2014.
Calvert was Paris’s son’s pediatrician before Zoey was born. Paris did some research and found Calvert’s background with the neonatal intensive care unit. It was a perfect fit. “I already knew I wanted Dr. Calvert (for Zoey) because I appreciated how well she worked with my son,” Paris says. “Her having knowledge and experience in the NICU was really important to me.”
Paris remembers Calvert and the whole Butterfield Park Pediatrics team being really excited to see Zoey come home. “We see Zoey about once a week,” Calvert says. “We have to maintain her weight through regular feedings to get her ready for her next surgery.” Surgical corrections are done on Zoey’s heart in stages.
Calvert says her long-term survival is based on development, and she’s doing beautifully.
Calvert says she had always wanted to be a physician when she was younger. She gravitated toward pediatrics in medical school. “I have a special passion for curing kids,” she says. “It’s quite gratifying to help them.”
There are a lot of challenges when managing patients with chronic issues like Zoey. “The stakes are higher regarding their care,” she says. “Even if it is harder to manage, it is more gratifying to treat.”
Paris says Calvert is great to work with because of her honesty and empathy. “She definitely tells you how it is,” Paris says. “She treats you like you are family, and none of my questions are ever stupid, no matter what they are.”
Calvert has two kids of her own, ages 8 and 10. She says she often feels like a mom to her patients, and tries to reassure parents like Paris that she would never do anything for her patients that she wouldn’t for her own children.
Calvert studied at the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Medicine, and has been at Citizens Memorial Hospital for 10 years.
In addition to helping run the pediatrics clinic, she volunteers with education and the school health advisory committee to get farmers’ market vegetables into school lunches. She also holds a tween girls night for girls ages 9 to 14 to talk about growing up.
Calvert is just one person of many on a wonderful team that is helping Zoey develop. Paris says she values the relationship and support she gets from Calvert every day.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in that office,” Paris says. “And she tells me we’re working as a team and it is going to be okay.”
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