This Christmas with Melinda Doolittle
Melinda Doolittle takes the stage at The Franklin Theatre on Thursday, December 14, at 8 pm. Tickets range from $32.50 to $42.50. Doolittle is a soul–stirring songstress,
In 2003, Lori Jordan was at Johns Hopkins, doing a residency in pediatric neurology. During one month, she took care of three children with strokes. Her path was set.
“I realized there was not much information to give the families; most available information was about strokes in adults,” says Jordan. “Strokes in children had not been studied extensively yet.”
An international group had just been formed to study strokes in children. Jordan joined in and today is considered an expert in strokes in children. Yet she bristles at the term 'expert.' “We’re only 10 years into studying and treating strokes in children,” says Jordan. “It is an exciting time to be part of this field because children have such an amazing capacity for recovery, and we are making real strides.”
Those advances are due in part to the work of Jordan and others in the international group. In the last five years alone, the National Institutes of Health have funded three major research studies for the collaborative group. Jordan has been at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital since 2011. Her fulfillment comes not only from treating the young stroke victims but from working with the families.
“Our patients are mostly stroke and brain injury victims, and I’m able to follow these children over time,” she says. “I have seen some patients from birth through high school graduation.” Of course, a child’s neurological problem is frightening for any parent. Yet her patient families inspire Jordan with their commitment to taking care of children with such challenges. Jordan’s goal is to educate and support them.
“In 20 years I want to be able to tell families that I understand how to prevent future strokes, what therapies make a difference, and how recovery will go. We are getting there, but not there yet,” she says.
One factor in the future will be the healthcare costs for this patient population. “These patients will need a lifetime of specialty care, and we are still learning what the impact will be on patients over time,” says Jordan. “Academic medical centers need to continue to have resources to train, and we need to figure out ways of taking care of underserved children with complex problems.”
Although confronting some tough challenges, 90 percent of Jordan’s patients improve, grow, and thrive. Whether leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop or treating her patients, Jordan’s love for children is obvious. “When I was in the pediatric rotation in medical school, I had that spring in your step, happy to go to work feeling—even at 5 a.m. That told me this is the right path for me,” says Jordan.