Big Plans for a Heart-Healthy Valley
With the addition last year of a second full-time Rio Grande Valley pediatric cardiologist, the Driscoll Health System – Pediatric Cardiology clinic, located at Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza-McAllen, has big plans to help improve the quality of life for the children and parents of the Rio Grande Valley.
The two physicians bring unique perspectives to Valley residents.
One is new to the Valley, while the other has been with the clinic since 2013. Their goal: to offer the entire Valley the best cardiological services possible.
Gary J. Butchko, MD, FAAP, FACC, has been a pediatric cardiologist since 2002. Dr. Butchko talks to his patients as if they were his own children. He tries to ease more than just the child’s physical pain; he tries to look at all aspects (mental, physical, spiritual, emotional) of their well-being. He will talk football with patients to take their minds off things.
“The Valley is a very close community, very family-oriented,” explained Dr. Butchko. “You have to be part of the family,” which is what the doctors and the rest of the Driscoll Health System – Pediatric Cardiology staff at Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza-McAllen are doing.
Dr. Butchko sees the best approach to treating a child is by applying teamwork to the whole family. “You have to treat the entire family, not just the child who is sick.”
Pediatric Cardiologist Alberto Mendoza-Paredes, MD, FAAP, is a family man, too. Originally from Peru, he sees things from a fresh perspective.
“I know the culture of Hispanic people: the way we think, what we want to know, ” said Dr. Mendoza, who joined the McAllen staff last summer.
He is bilingual, “which breaks the barrier of the language. We are able to understand each other.”
The goal of both physicians is to make their office “Valley-centric.”
It is “important to embed physicians in the community on a full-time basis” so that they become an integral part of the Rio Grande Valley, said Dr. Butchko.
The two are continuing in the footsteps of James Simpson, MD, a Driscoll Children’s Hospital pioneer who saw the need for bringing quality pediatric cardiology care to all the children of South Texas.
Dr. Simpson was the first pediatric cardiologist in Corpus Christi in the late 1960s. It was he who wanted to expand service into the Rio Grande Valley, at a time when other children’s hospitals were not providing tertiary care service.
Driscoll Children’s Hospital is proud to have such a long history of superior service to residents of the Rio Grande Valley.
At Driscoll Health System – Pediatric Cardiology, an emphasis is placed on stress tests. The doctors may start with a basic stress test, but they can add from there, depending on the needs of the patient.
In addition to the basic test, the clinic updated the exercise stress lab to include a pulmonary function test (PFT). They also added cardiovascular nuclear studies with a stress lab, which better defines chest pains in children, done in the Radiology Department at Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza-McAllen.
A new service the McAllen clinic now offers outpatient IV infusions, which means a patient can have the work done in a few hours at the clinic rather than have to be admitted overnight to the hospital. This is invaluable because the children can be monitored by healthcare professionals at the clinic they are familiar with. For the parents, it means not having to incur the costs of having to travel out-of-town.
All computers and electronic medical records are on the same program and in sync with Driscoll Children’s Hospital, which “maximizes the quality of care,” said Dr. Butchko.
The outpatient clinic rooms have been remodeled to improve confidentiality and privacy. Also, a third echocardiographic room was added. All three machines at the clinic are within a year old, so they are the latest technology. “The machines are cutting-edge with increased optics to diagnose and determine the appropriate therapy,” said Dr. Butchko.
“Our new system gives us the most advanced technology in the evaluation of the heart,” said Dr. Mendoza. “We have trained, experienced sonographers who perform procedures and work closely with us to ensure the best quality care.”
To the physicians, the bottom line is that they try to minimize their input on the lives of their patients. “We want them to be as normal as they can be and enjoy their lives,” said Dr. Butchko. Driscoll is a good match for the Valley because of continuity of care, said Dr. Butchko. “We understand the community.”
“We are in constant contact with our colleagues in Corpus Christi, so that there is no gap in our care for these children,” said Dr. Mendoza.
Having two full-time pediatric cardiologists at the McAllen clinic is an ideal situation for the patients and their families. Now, if there is a patient who needs to be seen at the hospital, one physician can go there, and the other can stay at the office seeing patients. “There’s no time wasted,” said Dr. Mendoza. “There’s no gap in the care for the clinic.”
Since the arrival of Dr. Mendoza, the availability of appointments for the patient has increased. “We are fulfilling our expectations” by offering timely care and meeting the needs of the patients, said Dr. Mendoza.
In addition to Drs. Butchko and Mendoza, other Driscoll Health System – Pediatric Cardiology physicians come down to the Valley to help coordinate care. Muhammad Khan, MD, FAAP, FACC, FSCAI, Interventional Cardiologist, sees patients having problems with valves and/or holes in the heart, while Garbine Goya, MD, CEPS, FACC, FAAP, Electrophysiologist, sees patients with irregular heart rhythms.
Drs. Butchko and Mendoza work independently as cardiologists in the Rio Grande Valley and are very much a part of the community, ut they are also part of the Driscoll Children’s Heart Center, which is based out of Corpus Christi.
Driscoll cardiologists are part of a comprehensive program offering excellent pediatric and congenital heart care using state-of-the art facilities. John Brownlee, MD, FAAP, FACC, is the Medical Director of the program, which has provided quality, compassionate care to patients in South Texas since 1963.
Driscoll Health System also has its own pediatric transport team in case a patient requires specialized care at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The patient could be safely transferred if needed and the same quality of care would be continued, making it unnecessary for the patient to travel to San Antonio or Houston to get high-quality cardiac healthcare.
“Children in the Rio Grande Valley can receive first-class pediatric cardiology care close to home thanks to Driscoll,” said Dr. Butchko.
That dedication to excellence is shared by Drs. Butchko and Mendoza, who see the need for the comprehensive care offered by Driscoll Children’s Hospital to be available to all.
“We have made the commitment of staying here,” said Dr. Mendoza.