Author Archive

Farewell And Thank You So Much

She said, “leave space in your heart for the unimaginable.”

I could write and write and write things to you today about the over 1,000 posts, videos and podcasts we’ve shared here but let me keep this last post a tiny bit brief:

I am so grateful to you for reading the words here in this blog and for entrusting me with this place to help you understand. I am thankful that so many, especially Seattle Children’s, believed me that pediatric health care can change shape. Blogging, and eventually digital health, became a decade-long constitutional part of my job as a pediatrician and parent. I grew and gained and shared so much because of what I learned here listening to and talking with the public about how best to care for our children. There is no question that the world we inhabit today is different than the one I sat in when I took to this work 10 years ago. More than ever before, those of us interested in helping the public understand how science illuminates truth must keep at it. The stakes are higher and our nation’s health depends upon expert leadership and translation. Please keep writing if you are. I will.

I wrote my first post here in November of 2009 when my babies were just…babies. Now I’ve got 5th and 7th grade boys that I adore more every single day. Don’t let any parent tell you it goes by too quickly – please know that it just gets exponentially better as our children grow into themselves. Each bit of the future can be something bigger. Read full post »

Digital Innovation At Seattle Children’s, A Look Back 2013-2019

I began the Seattle Mama Doc blog in 2009 as the first-ever, solely pediatrician authored blog on behalf of a children’s hospital. After nearly a decade of blogging, some 800 posts and hundreds of hundreds of videos and podcasts, it is bittersweet for me to announce that this is the end for the Seattle Mama Doc podcast and blog. I have learned so much about pediatrics, innovation, and caring for children and their families from Mama Doc followers around the world. Thank you!

I founded the Digital Health department at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2013. My goal was to leverage the wisdom of clinicians, patients, and researchers to transform health care delivery in the digital age. The vision that a world where healthcare providers and patients use new technology to collaborate more closely and build deeper relationships, that wasn’t mine alone, certainly. I’m indebted to so many internal and external partners who guided and partnered with this transforming work, along the way.

I’ve always believed innovation must embody “duel-centricity”: novel solutions must be both patient-centered but also clinician-centered to create long-lasting change and staying power. Striking a balance with that dual-focus is key for successful innovation. The other thing key: integration into the EHR. Just no way around that reality.”

As I begin the transition out of the role of Chief of Digital Innovation, I wanted to leave behind a quick reference and highlight some of the amazing work that has been produced out of our Digital Health team over the past 6 years. My hope is that you find this both informative and inspirational, but I also wanted to share our failures and lessons we learned in these early innovation pilots and programs. Of note, the majority of the Seattle Mama Doc blog will live on for some time on www.seattlechildrens.org, but the posts will also live on my new website www.wendysueswanson.com. And of course, I’ll be online – in minimum on Twitter and Instagram. My commitment to prevention, digital health, public health, and translation will not fade. Read full post »

2019 Measles Outbreak: Information for Parents

Measles, measles, and more measles. I know, it seems like all I’m writing about.  I’ve been doing media interviews for weeks now on measles infections and there doesn’t seem to be a slowdown yet. As it stands, there are currently 839 measles cases in the U.S. and children under age 5 years old account for about half of the cases. The vast majority of cases are in those who are unvaccinated. I’ve been asked: “Is the situation improving?” The answer is…no…sadly. The 75 new cases this week are a higher bump than in the previous two weeks, when about 60 additional cases were reported each week. Measles is wildly contagious. It spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone.

The great news, as always, is that we have a vaccine for this! We can prevent this from ever happening in the first place! Parents and children who are immunized are well protected and don’t need to worry right now. Read full post »

Measles, MMR Vaccine, Immunity, & Breastmilk

So much in the news lately about measles. A bit disappointing considering we sincerely thought it was “eliminated” in 2000. As you’ve heard, in the New York City area, there have been 285 confirmed cases since their outbreak began in the fall. Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency that would require unvaccinated individuals living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to receive the measles vaccine. The mayor said the city would issue violations and possible fines of $1,000 for those who did not comply who lived in areas with dense outbreaks.

Under-vaccinated populations are at risk for outbreaks. Case in point in New York and Washington State. Public health officials are stepping in to stop the spread, the hospitalizations, and the absolutely unnecessary toll it’s taking on human health. Measles IS and remains a wildly contagious virus; measles IS and remains vaccine-preventable.

Across the country, there have been 465 measles cases since the start of 2019, with 78 new cases in the last week alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday (4.8.19). In Washington State, our outbreak led to 73 confirmed cases.

I don’t think I can be any more clear: the best way to protect yourself against measles is to get immunized (>98% effective vaccine for lifelong protection) or to not be exposed in the first place (live in an immunized, safe community). The healthiest place to live is where everyone is healthy and immunized. If you and your children are immunized with 2 doses of the MMR vaccines, you can feel very comfortable, even in the midst of an outbreak. The vaccine is that good — safe and just amazingly effective at creating immune protection that is iron-clad. Read full post »

How And Why To Treat Teen Acne

Acne can be an extremely difficult medical challenge for children, teens, and adults. And let me be straight here: there is almost always something we can do to make it better. You don’t have to accept untreated acne as the end game. If you think acne is an issue of vanity, I urge you to read on. Acne can have enduring emotional and psychological consequences. Doing something now to support someone you know and love with acne can be powerful advocacy.

I’ve seen teens who worry about their acne be errantly categorized as having a concern for an appearance issue or be questioned about their “vanity” … when in reality, acne commonly causes real self-esteem issues and significant stress. Acne is a medical condition and many teens can use affordable, regular treatments that improve appearance, health, and well-being. Rarely, acne can cause disfiguring acne lesions, pox, or leave life-long scars. So approaching a plan for acne always makes sense. As long as anyone around a teen (or even an adult) treats acne as a vanity issue we’ll be under-supporting people and patients who don’t like the acne on their face or chest or back (or all of the above). No question early treatment of acne can prevent emotional distress. No question this is a medical condition.

Our face, and the skin on it, can at times feel like our largest presentation to the world despite how much stronger who we are — at the level of our soul — really matters. Practically speaking though, the biggest organ in our body is our skin and it does play the lead role at times in our life, especially when it’s not what we want it to be. When we have acne it can at times cause us to feel uncomfortable physically (big pimples really do hurt!) but also, emotionally.

The good news is that although the far majority of teens (75-80%) have acne lesions at some point, there are lots of ways to treat and even cure acne.

Here is a lively podcast I did with pediatric dermatologist, Dr. Markus Boos. He’s an awesome and super smart dermatologist. We bust myths, review Pediatrics guidelines, and highlight ways to treat teen acne.

Read full post »