Meet your provider: Deena Solomon

CHAS Dr. Solomon

I recently sat down with Perry St. Clinic’s pediatrician, Deena Solomon to get to know a little bit more about what makes her so great to work with.

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Deena Solomon, Pediatrician at the new Perry St. clinic! I am originally from New York, I grew up in Staten Island, went to medical school in Tel Aviv University in Israel, and did my residency in the pediatric department at King’s County hospital and University Medical center of Brooklyn, New York. After that, I worked as a pediatrician for 3 years in an outpatient clinic Staten Island Hospital. We moved to Spokane 6 years ago and have been a stay at home mom up until I started working at CHAS, about 6 months ago.

What initially drew you to Pediatrics vs any other branch of medicine?

CHILDREN! I love kids, I think that kids are extremely honest, which makes them so fun to work with. They always tell the truth the way they see it, and I always appreciate that about them.

Do you have children yourself?

I have 3 kids, a 7 year old son, and 2 daughters, 5 and 4 years old.

Do you have any special connection to the Perry District?

I live on the South Hill and I frequently visit the Perry District. I am excited to be in a place close to where my kids are attending school, I’m familiar with District 81 schools, sports available at those schools, parks to play at nearby, and things to do in nearby. I’m excited to relate to families in Perry and to be more conversational about what’s going on in their neighborhood. I’m especially excited to start building more relationships with families in the area.

When you aren’t taking care of kids, what are you doing?

(Laughs) When I’m not taking care of kids at CHAS, I’m taking care of my own kids at home! So, lots of outside play time. Right now, it’s all about basketball. My two oldest are involved playing at the YMCA, so most weekends are spent practicing and playing in games. But, now that the weather is getting good, it’s also going to be more about riding bikes and being out at the playgrounds. It’s basically all kids all the time.

What do you listen to get you excited for the day?

I listen to comedy talk shows, but I also enjoy quiet drives to work, since I’m always around kids at work and at home. The 10-15 minute car ride on the way here is the best way to get me prepped for the day.

What do patients/co-workers like about you?

I am pretty easy to speak to, and I think I am a good listener and people appreciate that about me. Especially parents with concerns about their children.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

That’s a really easy one, one of my mentors during my rotations was a big inspiration to me, he always made a point of reminding me, “less is more when it comes to pediatrics.” When there is a question of whether you should do an invasive test, intervention, blood test or x-ray, it’s usually best to avoid it. Typically best for kids not to go through the trauma of excessive testing. He always said a children’s place is at home, if there is any way you can get a kid at home vs. in the emergency room or in the hospital for an extended time, that’s where they should be.

Doc McStuffins or Jake and the Neverland Pirates?

I love Doc McStuffins! The show promotes all the values I would want to promote in my own kids. They show that both male and female roles aren’t predetermined and you can do anything you put your mind to! I also appreciate the diversity of the show…plus she’s a doctor!

What makes you unique?

I think my life experience, growing up in New York, my parents emigrating from Eastern Europe, living in Israel, traveling a ton in my life, and marrying someone with a very different background than my own (because my husband is Middle Eastern). My take on everything is a little unique because of all the different experiences and backgrounds influencing my life and it gives me a unique perspective.

What do you enjoy most about working at CHAS?

I really like that everyone is really working towards the mission of CHAS, (The mission of CHAS is to improve the overall health of the communities we serve by expanding access to quality health and wellness services), and it’s really been a pleasure for me to see that everybody I have met has a really positive outlook on what they are doing and working towards that mission. I love the fact that CHAS has been around for 20 years and we are making a big difference in our community and we are continuing to expand to all areas of our community. I’m really happy to be part of that.

Deena can’t wait for the Perry St. opening on March 23rd!

 

By Matt Grebe

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Did you know March is National MS Education and Awareness Month? Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide and is an unpredictable disease.  I recently sat down with CHAS’ chief Medical Director, Bill Lockwood to learn more about MS and how it affects the body.

What is MS?

A disease which affects mostly young adults – beginning at ages 20-40 and involves the brain and spinal cord. The underlying cause is a patient’s own immune system destroying the “myelin sheath” or insulation which surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This affects nerves ability to conduct electric signals as usual.

Who can get it?

It is usually diagnosed in people 18-40 years old and affects women approximately 3 times as much as men. There seems to be some genetic predisposition as it more often affects people of Northern European descent and is more common in family members of MS patients.  There seems to be environmental factors as well since it affects people who live in temperate climates more often than those in very cold or very warm climates.

There is no government mandated reporting requirements so estimates of total incidence may be inaccurate but in 2002 it was estimated that 400,000 people in the US had MS.

Symptoms

The damage to the myelin sheath can affect any nerve in the brain or spinal cord so the symptoms are highly variable and tend to come and go (one of the requirements for diagnosing the disease are symptoms separated by space and time. In other words, two or more discreet episodes affecting different parts of the nervous system at different times, for example, double vision which resolves, followed by arm numbness, which ultimately resolves.

Some of the symptoms include fatigue – the most common symptoms, tingling, visual changes (including double vision) balance problems, nerve pain, swallowing difficulties, trouble walking (due to imbalance or ) leg weakness), constipation, bladder problems (incontinence, or inability to empty), and cognitive (thinking) difficulties.

The symptoms tend to come and go early in the course of the disease but as time goes on, most patients will develop progressive disease, the course is different in every individual who has it.

Diagnosis

The disease is diagnosed by history and physical exam followed by an MRI and blood tests. Sometimes a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is required. Diagnosis is usually made by a physician who specializes in diseases of the nervous system (“neurologist”). Diagnosing the disease in its early stages allows early administration of “disease modifying drugs) which can slow the course of the disease.

Treatment

Overall care of MS is provided by a care team of physicians, nurses, mental health workers, and physical and occupational therapists. Besides social and physical supports,  there are a number of medications used to treat MS.

There are two main types of medications – disease modifying drugs, and drugs to treat symptoms.

The disease modifying drugs affect the immune system and slow the progression and reduce the number and severity of exacerbations (temporary worsenings) of the disease. There are currently 15 FDA approved disease modifying drugs and at least that many in clinical trials. A total of $870 million has been spent so far in MS research.

There are a number of drugs used to  treat the symptoms of MS (as described above) such as muscle relaxers, bladder relaxers, nerve pain medications, and steroids (used to treat sudden temporary worseinings of the disease).

by Matt Grebe and William Lockwood