Jim Fortenberry M.D., F.A.A.P., F.C.C.M.
My wife of 30+ years, three children (including a set of twins), colleagues and (I hope) patients say I’m known for being calm. In critical care medicine—and as Pediatrician in Chief of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a hospital system that has more than 740,000 patient visits annually—there really is no other way to go. With this blog, I hope to share information and insights that will help you focus on keeping calm and ensuring that all children are safe and healthy. As a parent and a doctor, I know our history and experiences make us all stronger together. So, this feels like a good time to share some of my history with you.
Let me take you back to when I was in my late teens/early 20s. I was, in fact, a history major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’ve always been fascinated in the past, in people’s stories and in finding out what shaped who I was and where I lived. I found studies about medicine particularly interesting, from the days of leeching and “bad humours” to the discovery of anesthesia and modern life support machines. Sharing with others, learning and gaining insight is what makes medicine still so intriguing to me today. I hope my blogging shows that desire to learn and share, is relevant and helpful… and certainly not containing all the “perfect” answers.
After undergrad, I was on to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and then back to North Carolina to complete a general pediatrics residency at Carolinas Medical Center in the UNC system. What came next would change my perspective on pediatrics forever: a pediatric critical care fellowship and research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Each children’s hospital has amazing momentum, liveliness and uplifting energy from the brave patients and families who walk its halls.
So, when Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta came knocking in 1992 for me to work in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), I didn’t hesitate. Emergency and critical care medicine thrives with a team effort, a new discovery and sometimes a life-or-death situation that relies on sheer will (kids have lots and lots of it). What makes it special in pediatrics is knowing I can help make a difference in the life of a child, with a whole potential lifetime ahead of him. And the families are my “patients” too! Today I still fill my PICU role 50 percent of the time—in addition to being Professor of Critical Care at Emory University School of Medicine and Pediatrician in Chief.
I love my job, even on the craziest days. At those times, I remain focused on being slow and steady. I plan to take the same approach on this blog, and I hope you’ll share how you keep calm—and what experiences in your past helped you become the person you are today.
Dr. Vivian Lennon, M.D., F.A.A.P.
As a parent of two boys, Cale Christopher (10) and Nicholas (8), I know how rewarding the job can be. I also know how challenging it is. It’s hard not to be nervous. Every sneeze, cough and fever will seem like an emergency. As a new mom, I was not immune to new-mom anxiety, but I made it through. As a doctor, I know that when emergencies do happen, there’s no place I’d rather take my boys than Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. They know kids and they know how to treat them.
You could say medicine is in my blood. My father was an OB/GYN and my mother was a forensic scientist. I knew from an early age that I wanted to become a doctor so I could help people, but I didn’t know until I did my pediatric rotation during medical school at Emory University that those people would be kids. I thought the nurses were incredible and the doctors amazing. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, so pediatrics became my specialty.
My time at Emory also shaped my personal life. While there, I met my husband, Cale, studying for his doctorate degrees in genetics and molecular biology. Cale and I were married during my pediatric residency at Egleston, and after my residency was complete, I went to work for one of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s primary care centers. For a short time, I moved to one of Children’s urgent care centers until I found my home at Primary Care Center – Chamblee, where I have been the Medical Director since 2005. I’ve been with Children’s since medical school, making me a homegrown member of the team.
Like all parents, there is no end to the questions you will have, and that’s why I’m here. You will no doubt receive a wealth of well-meaning advice from friends and family members about caring for your newborn. My goal for this blog is to ensure the information you’re getting is accurate–from a real mom who’s been there. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever have but it’s also the most satisfying and rewarding.