Top Doctors 2015

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Generations of Care  | Repair Man | Bringing in the Talent | Building Up Health 
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Generations of Care

When Mary Hawkins needed a doctor for her premature twins, Dr. Melinda Slack was there. And when Mary’s daughter Kelly grew up and had her own child, Dr. Melinda Slack was right there once again. Slack is the Springfield-area Top Doctor for Neonatology. By Rose Marthis

When the doctor sees your babies more than you do right after they’re born, she becomes part of the family.

That’s exactly the case for Dr. Melinda Slack and the Hawkins family.

Twenty-nine years ago, Mary Hawkins went into labor at 28 weeks. Her twin children, Kelly and Jake, both weighed less than 3 pounds and had to fight a lot of health issues.

That’s when Hawkins met Dr. Slack. She was the neonatologist in the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital the night Hawkins’s twins were born.  

Slack was still new at Mercy and just a few years out of residency and fellowship at University of Kentucky College of Medicine. But she knew the field of pediatrics was where she belonged.

“I’ve always loved children,” Slack says. “My first rotation through the nursery, I was hooked.”

Slack says she loves treating babies because she has a direct influence on their health for the rest of their lives.

“These patients are the most fragile,” she says. “There is no time when you impact a patient more profoundly than you do in a premature infant.” 

Slack has been impacting the Hawkins children’s lives for almost 30 years, and now her care is spanning
generations. 

Kelly is now married and pregnant with her second child. Slack attended her wedding and her baby shower, and when she had her first baby, she insisted Slack was in the delivery room because that is who she trusted.

“Kelly begged Dr. Slack to be there,” Hawkins says. “Her baby wasn’t premature at all, but she would call her through the entire pregnancy. She was worried. She has been through a lot and has seen her brother go through a lot.”

Hawkins says Slack’s support in the early years has lasted into a lifelong friendship now.

Kelly and Jake had problems with breathing and gaining weight, and the doctors diagnosed Jake with cerebral palsy at six weeks old. Hawkins says one of the hardest things was not being able to hold her babies the first six weeks of their lives.

“It is a very hard road to go down, and you need someone you trust,” Hawkins says. “I really had to rely on her over that time. She is wonderful to our family.”

Slack considers her family to include her fellow doctors and all the babies she has helped over her 32 years at Mercy. Over the decades, she has grown into leadership positions in pediatric groups, and is active in the March of Dimes and in Girls on the Run.  

“I come back to work every day because of my superior staff,” she says. “They are always willing to do whatever it takes to be there for that baby with a smile on their face. I feel fortunate and honored to do that.”

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