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Remarkable care for kids - and their parents, too

Bookmark and Share On a sunny Monday afternoon, Natalie Krause drove to her mother's house with her 9-day-old daughter Jazlyn. When Krause glanced into the back seat to check on her daughter, she realized that Jazlyn wasn't breathing. Krause pulled into her mother's driveway, yanked open the car door, and tried to revive her child. She rushed into the house with the baby and called the paramedics while Krause's mother continued to perform CPR. She revived Jazlyn just as the paramedics arrived. Jazlyn was transported quickly to Virtua Health's pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for further care. That's where the Krauses first met Virtua Health pediatric intensivist Christopher Festa, MD. "One look at Dr. Festa and you see Robin Williams — in face and spirit," says Krause with a smile. "Though it was a difficult time for us, Dr. Festa's bedside manner was both comforting and professional. He made sure we understood why Jazlyn stopped breathing and how she would be treated; his humor lightened our emotional load." Dr. Festa explained that Jazlyn had an infection that may have resulted in apnea or brief pauses in her breathing. However, Krause mentioned that Jazlyn also had problems swallowing, which prompted an in-depth evaluation and testing for gastrointestinal disorders. The test results showed that Jazlyn had a malrotation of the intestines. "Malrotation occurs during early fetal development," says Dr. Festa. "Early on, the intestines are actually outside of the body. Then at about 12 weeks of pregnancy, they rotate into position within the abdomen." In Jazlyn's case, however, they rotated abnormally. Virtua surgeons corrected the malrotation and inserted a feeding tube so that Jazlyn could receive the necessary nutrients she needed during her six-week recovery in the PICU.
Dr. Chris Festa holds Jazlyn
Dr. Chris Festa holds his former patient Jazlyn Krause.
Healing from the heart
"It's heartbreaking for parents to see their child in the hospital," says Dr. Festa. "When parents are scared, I listen to their concerns, and I assure them that I'll care for their child as if he or she was my own." The PICU nurses encouraged Krause to bring her baby's personal items to transform the hospital room into a home away from home. So, she brought in Jazlyn's booties and headbands, musical toys and soothing CDs. The nurses also added a special touch. They draped colorful blankets on the crib to distract from the beeping monitors and feeding tubes. "My family and I have grown attached to Dr. Festa and all the nurses who made our stay more comfortable," says Krause. "Even during the PICU's busiest times, we always felt like we received one-on-one care."

Physician profile
Christopher Festa, MD, is board certified in general pediatrics and pediatric critical care. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric critical care at Cooper University Hospital. His research has been presented at several national conferences, and he is the author and editor of a handbook on mechanical ventilators.