Connecticut Children’s Westport Location Celebrates a Year of Helping Families

above: Whimsical decor spreads cheer through the care center

In December, Connecticut Children’s Westport Specialty Care Center celebrated its one-year anniversary. That is one year that the center has been saving families from unnecessary visits to emergency rooms, one year that local families are traveling down the street rather than across the state or across state lines for medical care for their children with specialty care needs, and one year that kids are excited to go to their doctor’s appointments and physical therapy appointments because they seem more like playdates than daunting medical visits.

Dr. Robyn Matloff, Associate Vice President of Ambulatory Pediatrics and Community Development, is a Weston mom who felt Westport was the ideal location for this branch of Connecticut Children’s healthcare system, which includes 41 locations. “The goal of the hospital was to bring the high-level care that we offer up in Hartford to Fairfield County,” says Matloff. “We reached out to local pediatricians and asked what they need, and that’s how we came up with this list of over twenty specialties.” She references a sign on the wall, pointing patients to: Cardiology, ECHO & EKG; Endocrinology & Diabetes; Neurosurgery; Radiology; Infusions and more. (Scroll to the bottom for a full list of specialties).

left: Dr. Robyn Matloff and patient. right: A CT Children’s location in Westport was Dr. Matloff’s longtime dream – Photographs:CT CHildren’s; Dr. Matloff by Garvin Burke

Signs like that are one of the few reminders that this is a medical clinic. Decor featuring ocean, meadow, forest and sky themes gives the walls, hallways and spacious patient care rooms a whimsical, reassuring vibe. Toys, snacks and video game consoles abound. There are work pods for parents. A boy in the gym is building strength by pushing his therapist on a trolley; his glee gives away that he’s here to have fun. Matloff says, “One girl at a Westport Moms event saw our logo and exclaimed, ‘Oh I go to play there every Friday!’”

The center’s thirty-five to forty doctors work closely with area “pediatricians, as they know the families so well,” comments Matloff. “We are the only healthcare system in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to children.” This is comforting to parents—the doctors are focused on pediatrics, the X-ray machines are set to emit the minimal amount of radiation, the ambiance is child friendly—and especially to the kids, who aren’t treated beside ailing adults and can see that their peers have similar issues.

A constellation on the ceiling gives this hallway a dreamy feel – Photograph: CT CHildren’s

As a non-profit, the center is focused on offering services to all children who need care, regardless of finances; 15,000 patients have walked through the door. “We accept all insurance and no insurance,” explains Matloff. She recalls a patient arriving in flip flops on a snowy day. “Our Center for Care Coordination was able to get his mother insurance and connect them with resources to get clothing and food and really helped the whole family.” Access to a bus route and train station make the location appealing to those without cars. “It’s close to Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford, so we are able to encompass a wide array of patients,” says Matloff. “We can have a patient who is well off and supports us—and we really appreciate that—and the next patient may have just arrived here from Guatemala and has nothing. Both patients get the same high-quality care.”

The team also advocates with legislators at the local, state and national level. “A few weeks ago, we had local representatives and senators tour the site,” explains Matloff, “and we talked about what issues are most important in pediatrics and child health in Connecticut.” The center’s team spearheaded a book drive, working with pediatricians and corporations, and supplied 500 books to The South Norwalk School, which only had a shelf of books before the drive. “We want to support not just kids who have complex medical needs but also meet the needs of the community and extend our care outside these walls,” says Matloff.

All patients are welcome, regardless of insurance status – Photograph: © AnnaStills – stock.adobe.com

The center accepts new patients up to age 22 and offers walk-in appointments for X-rays and orthopedics from 8 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays. If your child takes a playground tumble next door at King’s Highway Elementary School, a short walk (or hop) away the bone can be set—no race to the emergency room needed. The clinic does not offer primary care.

“When I interviewed six years ago,” recalls Matloff, “I was asked, ‘Where should we put the center?’ I pointed to Westport on the map and said, ‘Here.’ Every time I walk in I still get chills that this has happened and we’re here, helping families.”

Parent Praise

Community members speak about the incredible impact the hospital has had on their families.

“What stood out for me with her experience at CT Children’s was how willing everyone was to help us, from the folks emptying the trash to the head doctor making the rounds with an entourage of students. What was a scary and unfamiliar experience really ended up with us feeling safe and taken care of, even when we weren’t really sure what was going to happen next.  Importantly, all of the staff treating Ellie were willing to talk directly to Ellie and not filter everything through me or talk down to her. She spent about six months in follow-up and our experience with her outpatient care was the same. I could not have asked for more from our interaction with CT Children’s.” —Jessica Stauder, Westport, mom of Ellie, who needed intravenous immunoglobulin therapy to raise platelet levels after her body had a scary reaction to a whack by a softball.

“We first visited CT Children’s in Westport in February of 2023 at the recommendation of our pediatrician who suspected our oldest daughter might be developing pneumonia. She had told us a new children’s specialty center from CT Children’s had opened in Westport and that they could do same-day walk-in chest X-rays. We drove right over where our daughter was so well taken care of. The entire care team made my very sick child feel comfortable and safe.

When my younger daughter then started to complain of heel pain at the start of her softball season this fall, we once again went for care at CT Children’s. This time with Dr. Pacicca, their pediatric orthopedist, who diagnosed Blythe with Severe’s disease (inflammation of the growth plate of the heel). I loved that they were able to see her, take all the necessary images and also prescribe PT with their pediatric PT Emily—who my youngest would eagerly attend her 7 am PT sessions before school with. How convenient, as a working mom myself, having pediatric specialized care for my daughter that didn’t disrupt her school schedule. We are just so lucky to have CT Children’s in our backyard!”
—Michelle Yanover, Westport

Geri Epstein Infusion Center

Since its opening in March, the Geri Epstein Infusion Center at the Westport Specialty Care Center has administered 250 infusions. This means children in Fairfield County have a comforting and convenient place to go for chemotherapy treatments and other infusions. They will be among other kids, and their parents will meet parents going through the same challenging journey. But it’s a journey made easier by reducing the physical distance these families need to travel to get their kids the care they need. The center was named in honor of longtime Westport resident, Geri Epstein, who suffered from Crohn’s disease. The David and Geri Epstein Private Foundation has donated $1 million to Connecticut Children’s to support the extension of pediatric mental health services, high-impact research in suicide prevention and inflammatory bowel diseases, and the Infusion Center in Westport.

Connecticut Children’s Westport Specialty Care Center Full List of Specialties

Cardiology, ECHO & EKG
Digestive Diseases & Hepatology (GI)
Endocrinology & Diabetes
Hematology/Oncology
Nephrology
Neurology & EEG
Neurosurgery
Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
Otolaryngology (ENT)
Pain Medicine
Pediatric Surgery
Plastic Surgery
Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine
Pulmonary Function Lab
Rheumatology
Urology
Weight Management
Clinical Nutrition
Infusion Center
Physical & Occupational Therapy
Radiology (X-ray & Ultrasound)
Speech-Language Pathology

connecticutchildrens.org
(860) 545-9000
191 Post Rd West, Westport

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