140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Friday, August 15, 2008

Follow Up on Kerak Clinic for Shriners Hospital for children. Nor Cal

Carson teen finds help at Shriners

BY TAMMY KRIKORIAN • tkrikorian@rgj.com • August 15, 2008

When 15-year-old William went to the school nurse after falling on a piece of equipment in gym class, the results were unexpected.

The Carson Valley Middle School nurse said William's shoulders were uneven and suspected he had scoliosis. A Carson City doctor confirmed the diagnosis and recommended William see a specialist.

But without medical insurance, his parents Donald and Debbie Lockett, of Gardnerville, couldn't afford to take William to a specialist right away.

"It was pretty stressful for a while," Donald said. "I was trying to wait, trying to save up."

Then, they learned about the Shriners Hospital of Northern California, which provides no-cost care for children with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic conditions and burns.

"It's everything. It's tremendous," said Debbie. "It's a great thing they do for kids and families."

On Thursday, William had his first appointment with a Shriners Hospital doctor, who traveled to Reno with two nurses for the day to meet with a dozen first-time patients at HAWC Community Health Center.

Until now, children from the Reno-Tahoe area had to travel to Sacramento to the Shriners Hospital for all of their appointments. Thursday was the first time patients were able to have their initial appointments in Reno, but the Shriners plan to continue holding first-time appointments locally twice a year.

Patients will be required to travel to Sacramento for follow-up care, and the transportation is taken care of by the Kerak Shriners of Reno.

All of the medical care, including surgeries, physical therapy and a pharmacy, is done on-site, at the hospital, which is more like a pediatric medical center, hospital spokesman Kobi Sonoyama said. When needed, the hospital also arranges for accommodations for parents and families to stay while their children are admitted.

William, who starts his sophomore year at Douglas High School in a couple weeks, said he's had pain in his back for a couple of years, especially when on a long trip by car or plane or when he lays down too long in bed or on a couch. Until he saw his school nurse, he thought it was normal. Knowing what the problem is, he said, is a relief.

"They might be able to take away the pain, make everything more comfortable," he said.

At his appointment with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Lerman, William was X-rayed and told he has a 35-degree curvature of his spine with a rotation near his pelvis.

Debbie Lockett said typically surgery is done at 50 degrees and the patient is put in a brace at 40 degrees.

William has a follow-up appointment scheduled in Sacramento in December to see if the curvature increases and whether he grows.

"I think there's certainly some relief in the fact that right now he's at 35 and if it was in the 40s or 50-degree range, we'd have some major considerations there," Debbie said. "We kind of have to wait and see what happens when he gets X-rayed in December."

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