BUFFALO, NY - Kathleen A. Grisanti Lillis ’82, MD, made a critical decision about her future in 2010 – one that even surprised her. After 18-plus years working in the Emergency Department at Buffalo’s Women & Children’s Hospital, Lillis resigned from her “tremendously rewarding but also challenging” roles to start the Pediatric & Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY. It is the region’s first free-standing emergency room alternative for children (infants through age 21). Staffed by pediatricians and pediatric emergency specialists, the center treats young patients who need wounds stitched, broken bones X-rayed and antibiotics administered.
“We provide the best possible care for children’s acute illnesses and injuries in a setting that’s welcoming and comfortable, not intimidating or sterile looking,” she explains.
Lillis’ decision to leave Women & Children’s didn’t come easily. She proudly served as director of the emergency room (ER) and chief of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Division. But after tending to the critical care of pediatric patients at a time when the hospital’s ER was considered the busiest in Buffalo, Lillis grew frustrated.
“I wasn’t able to spend the time with patients that I felt I needed in order to give them the best care,” she recalls.
Urgent care centers have emerged as a popular and economical alternative to overcrowded emergency rooms. More scarce, however, are specialized centers for children who need immediate medical attention but whose conditions don’t rise to the level of emergency.
Pediatric & Adolescent Urgent Care fills that sorely needed service, with locations in Western New York’s Northtowns and Southtowns. But opening the center came with growing pains. Lillis’ former colleagues saw her as a competitor.
“It took a lot to convince the pediatric community that we exist not to compete with, but to supplement its care.”
Walk-in hours are limited to evenings, weekends and holidays, “when most pediatric offices are closed.” The center does not conduct routine exams or school physicals, nor do the doctors administer routine immunizations.
The center is, however, equipped to deliver treatments not often available in pediatricians’ offices, including basic surgical procedures, IVs, blood draws and conscious sedations. Lillis’ newly-opened Pediatric and Adolescent Infusion Center is an outgrowth that provides infusions to young patients battling certain types of chronic diseases.
“Our business model continually evolves to reflect the needs of the pediatric healthcare community,” she says.
What doesn’t change, however, is Lillis’ commitment to deliver the best possible care to her young patients along with a healthy dose of compassion.
“Now I am able to spend more time with my patients. I can educate them, laugh and joke with them, and comfort them in what is oftentimes an uncomfortable situation,” Lillis says. “This is the type of medicine I was called to do.”
Kathleen Grisanti Lillis ’82, MD, has been a committed member of the Canisius Medical Advisory Board since 2004 and a mentor to the college’s pre-med students, many of whom volunteer at her centers.